Everything You Need To Know To Vote

With Election Day fast approaching, it's time to make sure you're ready to cast a ballot.

We're not just talking about deciding which candidates and measures will get your vote, though that's certainly important. There's much more to the process than deciding whom and what you support.

Between paperwork necessities and navigating registration deadlines, making sure you’ll be able to exercise your right to vote can feel like just another slightly overwhelming chore. But when you break it down, the process is actually pretty simple. And we're here to help!

We’re giving you seven easy steps to streamline your way to the polls on November 8. Follow these and you’ll walk into your polling place in just over a month confident that you’ve got it all covered.

Ahead, check out the information you need to have in hand and at your fingertips to get out there and vote!

Illustrated by: Elliot Salazar.
Step 1: Check your state’s laws and requirements.

First things first — double-check your state’s laws and make sure you have the documents you need to register to vote, as well as the ones to have on hand when you actually head to the polls in your state.

There are 32 states that currently require some form of ID to cast a vote. Some may accept some form of non-photo proof of residence, such as a bill or paycheck issued to you at the address you use to register, but others require very specific documents.

If you don't have an ID handy, there are still options. Some states allow you to vote on Election Day, as long as you return to provide ID within three days. Check your state's laws and find out what documents you'll need here, and get them together now.
Illustrated by: Elliot Salazar.
Step 2: Register.

Voter registration deadlines are coming up — fill out that form and put it in the mail ASAP! The states with the earliest deadlines require you to register with 30 days to spare, making the deadline October 8. Check out your state’s deadline here, and make sure to submit your form on time!
Illustrated by: Elliot Salazar.
Step 3: Get all the “maybes” squared away.

Need an absentee ballot? Think that you might need to vote early? Get that taken care of soon.

Each state has a different requirement for absentee voting, so check what’s needed in your state. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to receive (and return) your ballot before the election. The earliest deadlines to apply for an absentee ballot are three weeks before Election Day, and most states require the ballot to be submitted by a certain time on November 8. Check out your state’s deadlines here.
Illustrated by: Elliot Salazar.
Step 4: Do your research.

After all the hullabaloo of making sure you’re able to vote, don’t forget the most important step — knowing whom and what you support.

Research candidate stances on issues that are important to you. Refinery29 has done the heavy work of breaking down issues in the presidential race for you here, but your state and local races and ballot initiatives matter, too! While the race for the White House gets all the attention, local elections can have just as big an effect on your day-to-day.
Illustrated by: Elliot Salazar.
Step 5: Check your polling place.

Make sure you know where you’re going! Check your local Board of Elections website to find out where to go on Election Day. Make sure to check out what time the polls open and close, too, and give yourself plenty of time to get in line and get that vote in.
Illustrated by: Elliot Salazar.
Step 6: Prep your path to the polls.

Now that you know where to go, it's time to figure out how (and when) you'll get there.

Tell your boss if you need to take time away from work and plan how you’re going to travel to the polls.

Many states, but not all, require that employers give time off to vote if your work hours won’t allow you to make it to the polls. Check your state’s current laws and figure out what you need to do if you’ll need to be away from work.

If you think you’ll have difficulty getting to your polling place in time to cast your ballot, double-check traffic or transit routes now so you don’t get blindsided day-of.
Illustrated by: Elliot Salazar.
Step 7: Get out there and vote!

The last step is the biggest, but the best. Gather those documents mentioned back in step 1, do any last-minute research, and go make your vote count!