After nearly a year of being saturated with political news, Election Day is almost here. Whether you’re a first-time voter or new to the Fairfax area, here are some things to remember when you head to the polls.
1. Go early
Plan to get in line as early as possible, especially if you’re voting in Merten Hall on campus where Manhattan Pizza and Panda Express are. This election is predicted to have one of the highest voter turnouts on record, so be prepared to wait. Polls officially close at 6:45 PM. If you live off-campus and still aren’t sure where to go then check your polling location.
2. Do not take a picture of your ballot
Although it’s not illegal in the state of Virginia, it’s highly frowned upon. Voters in other states and celebrities have had their votes nullified after posing with them online. It may be allowed, but it could lead to issues and take up valuable time for the polling staff. Justin Timberlake narrowly avoided jail time after taking a ballot selfie in Tennessee where it was deemed illegal earlier this year.
3. You can write-in candidates
Yay for democracy! Although we have a two-party system and some third party candidates made it onto the ballot, you’re allowed to write in your own choice. The candidate must have filed paperwork prior to the election. If they haven’t, your vote will be thrown out. You must also write their full, legal-given name.
4. Bring your ID
You must present a valid government or state issues ID to your polling location like a driver’s license or passport. The Virginia Department of Elections website also says you may bring a “valid student ID issued by a public school or private school in Virginia displaying a photo.” This includes your Mason ID!
5. Do your research
Understand that the media is playing up every aspect of this election cycle. As a voter, it’s important to research, understand the context of the situation, and make an informed decision. If you’re voting in Fairfax, you’ll be voting on two constitutional amendments involving unions and the taxation of property owned by widows of public servants. You will also be voting on current incumbent Gerry Connolly as a house representative. The biggest issue on the ballot is the Fairfax county meals tax that could potentially impact every restaurant in the area surrounding campus. You can see a sample ballot on the Virginia government website.
No matter the outcome, this will go down as one of the most historic elections to ever occur in our country’s history. We could possibly see our first female president. We could also see the first president to not release his tax returns since Gerald Ford. Get out and vote on November 8th! Your vote matters!