Casting your ballot shouldn’t be a quick decision

Stephanie Suarez, Contributing Writer

In elementary school, we’re introduced to our country’s history but as we progress through our education, we go into greater detail. Its founding, our first president George Washington, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Watergate and all the ups and downs that led to the land we call the United States.

Graphic by Mike Clement

One of the things conveniently left out of most high schoolers social studies and history classes is how to vote. But when one of the biggest milestones of a person’s life comes around and while Nov. 3, is right around the corner, there are many people who are both terrified and excited to vote. We know all about the judicial system and how votes are counted, but learning how to pick a candidate, what political party we’re supposed to align with and how to actually vote is not emphasized enough.

According to Smartvoter.org, there’s a guide to help voters select a candidate to vote for in elections:

1.  Decide what you are looking for in a candidate.

2. Find out about the candidates

3. Gather materials about the candidates

4. Evaluate candidates’ stances on issues

5. Learn about the candidates’ leadership abilities

6. Learn how other people view the candidate

7. Sorting it all out

For what to expect on Election Day, a good idea is to check out sample ballots from past elections and memorize choices. Make sure to find out what elections are happening locally in the community because it may be an election year where we’re selecting state representatives as well as Senate and House of Representative members.

But how are we supposed to know which party aligns with our views? Fortunately, there are many political party quizzes, such as IDEAlog.com, that help guide voters in the direction of what political party could be the right fit. It’s also a good idea to choose a political party that aligns with your views, but it’s OK if it’s difficult to find the candidate who is the best match for you.

Photo from FLICKR

Influencing family and friends to vote is another crucial factor that isn’t stressed enough. For some people, Election Day is just another day in the calendar that people are casually reminded of.

The process of making a voting plan is critical now more than ever as one of the biggest elections in our lifetime is happening during a pandemic. It’s important that in our plan of action we decide how to vote: via absentee ballot, in-person or early voting. Depending on which style, we need to check out deadlines for registering and mailing ballots. If we’re going to vote in-person, we have to make sure we wear masks, socially distance and use hand sanitizer. Regardless, it’s essential to use our voice to create change in our country.

People’s voices are powerful. It comes together as one. Many speak of change, but the numbers and barriers put into place represent a different picture. People feel as if they couldn’t vote because they had to work, couldn’t find transportation to voting places or simply had no time to possibly go out and express their beliefs. But in a time of historic lows, this is the time for people to educate themselves on the process of voting so that this can lead to the change we long for. In 2016, 58.1% of eligible voters turned out for the election, which are some of the lowest numbers reported in comparison to 61.6% in 2008 and 58.6% in 2012.

The expected voter turnout for young voters is record-breaking. According to the National Q-poll released on Sept. 23, 63% of voters between the ages of 18-34 are planning to vote for Joe Biden. White males are 55% more likely to vote for Donald Trump versus 39% for Biden. These numbers help people predict who has a higher outcome of winning and help campaigns create strategies to influence people to vote for them.

The year 2020 will go down in history for many things, and this election is no exception. Mark those calendars for Nov. 3, make sure you’re registered to vote, decide the best option for voting in COVID-19 times and make your first time count.