Casting Your Vote
Why have people risked their lives to get and keep the right to vote? In the United States, we tend to take this right for granted. Yet if we were ever deprived of it, we would surely come to recognize its great value. The voting process may vary slightly from place to place, but in general, these steps apply:
1. Determine if you are eligible to vote.
a. To qualify to vote, you must be an American citizen at least 18 years of age and a resident of the State in which you vote.
2. Register to vote.
a. In every State except North Dakota, you must · register to vote. You can register locally, usually at city hall or the county courthouse. Registration tables are often set up in shopping malls, supermarkets, libraries, and fire stations before an election. You can register by mail, and in many places, via the Internet. To register you will need proof of your age, such as a birth certificate.
3. Study the candidates and issues.
a. Identify the candidates for each office and the duties of the office. Then research the candidates' views on major issues. Besides voting for candidates for office, voters often have the opportunity to directly approve or reject proposed State and local laws. Don't wait until you are in the voting booth to become familiar with these issues.
4. Go to your polling place.
a. In many States, voters receive a voter registration card identifying their precinct and polling place. Newspapers often publish lists of polling places prior to an election. Polls are usually open from 7:00 or 8:00 A.M. to 7:00 or 8:00 P.M. At the polling place, your name will be checked against a list of registered voters to make sure you are eligible to vote. A growing number of States now require all voters to show some proof of their identity, such as a driver's license, passport, or birth certificate. You will be directed to a booth with some type of voting device, or you will be given a paper ballot and directed to a voting booth.
5. Cast your vote.
a. Follow the instructions on the voting device or ballot, so your vote will be counted properly. Do not feel rushed. If you have a question, ask an official. Make sure you've made a choice in every contest in which you wish to vote.
a) Brainstorm at least three possible sources of voter information for voters in your area.
(b) What sources would you consider most reliable?