You're ready, set, and rarin' to participate in the electoral process! Your enthusiasm is great, but if you want to make your vote count, you'll need to know where to go and what to do.
Step 1: Check yourself Triple-check your information. Put election day on your calendar, and use a site like canivote.org to confirm that you're actually registered. Then, check your state's website to make sure you know where your proper polling place is, how to get there, and its hours.
Step 2: Call in patriotic Let your boss or professor know if you plan to vote before or during work or school hours. Since the voting process can take some time, giving a heads up to the powers that be can save you a lot of grief later on.
Step 3: Bring documentation Bring documentation that will establish your right to vote. Each state’s regulations differ, so look up your local rules on vote411.org. Some places require you to present a government-issued ID, like a driver’s license or passport, while others will send you a voter ID card after you register.
TIP: Some places will let you use other documentation — like a utility bill, bank statement, or paycheck — as well.
Step 4: Bring entertainment A lot of people want to make their voice heard, so you sometimes may need to wait for your turn at the voting booth. Bring along something to keep you entertained while you wait.
TIP: Polling lines usually peak early in the morning and late at night. If you'd like to avoid the wait, cast your ballot during off hours.
Step 5: Do some research If you’re worried about how exactly you’ll be casting your ballot, visit "vote411.org":http://vote411.org to familiarize yourself with the methods available in your area. Your options might include an optical scan ballot, a mechanical lever machine, or a paper or electronic ballot.
TIP: Consult the army of voting day volunteers at the polling location if you have any questions. They'll be happy to help you.
Step 6: Vote Arrive at your polling location, wait your turn, enter the booth, and cast your ballot. Democracy feels good, doesn’t it?
FACT: In the 2000 presidential election, only 55% of voting-age Americans cast a ballot.