How to Vote in the 2016 Presidential Election

For those of you who clicked on this link while rolling your eyes thinking this will be my biased opinion about who you should vote for in the 2016 presidential election, think again.  

I am here as an advocate. I am advocating for our right, as college students, to be heard and to be reckoned with because our values and needs do matter. Voting matters and will have an effect on your life whether or not you take part in the process. “Disappointment in the system” is not a valid excuse for a blatant apathy or idleness when disregarding elections. My harshness may seem exaggerated, but the reality is that our generation will be primarily subjected to the consequences of legislation and decisions made without us being kept in mind because we are consistently known as the age group that lacks initiative during election season. I am advocating for millennials to break the cycle of faltering youth voter turnout and actually take part in deciding our futures.

In order to ease my fellow millennials into the journey of politics, I am going to outline the fundamentals of civic participation, a.k.a what to during election season.

Where to startThe task of going through the candidate’s economic plans and whatnot is simpler than you think. Your basic Google search of each candidate will reveal not only their most controversial statements but also their most popular agendas. An easy way to filter through what does and doesn’t align with your socio-political views is by looking through the top hits of our trusted friend, Google. I would be wary of headlines from partisan news stations, such as Fox News, CNN and MSNBC; however, if you see a common headline among these networks and others, chances are the headline is true. Business Insider lists the most- to least-trusted news outlets to help you out.

What to doFor those who are lost in the chaos of governmental drama — or as Jon Stewart once said, aren’t sure how to play the “ultimate game of I Spy of bulls**t” in the world of politics — you are far from alone in this matter. It is difficult to maneuver through the suspicious promises or seemingly too idealistic proposals that candidates are hashing out left and right (pun intended). This is where trusting your gut is a valid method of weighing which candidates are the most trustworthy and whether you think their propositions are realistic ones. If you think just for a second that something sounds moderately racist, it probably is. Just like if you think something sounds nice but is probably too good to be able to happen in a society that fears any level of change, then it's probably unlikely that it'll happen.

Search for an honest campaign that speaks to your beliefs of where you think this country ought to be headed, and remember that our future president will reflect on us in the global playing field.

This part does take a bit more time, but watching the presidential debates reveals a lot about a candidate’s character. As the pressure kicks in, you will be able to see the real side of each candidate and how they react. Although I find this wildly entertaining, some of you may not. Luckily, we live in a media-frenzied world, which means that the highlights will be posted shortly after. So be sure to look at Facebook or Twitter trends for the moments that caught most people’s attention.

The moment of truthThe fact that there are currently 23 declared candidates running for presidency is overwhelming. Whether you have decided to register as a Democrat or Republican, you are faced with the daunting task of voting in the primary elections in the spring (unless you’re an Independent or Green Party member). One perk of being registered with a party is that you get to help round down which runners survive in the epic journey of who becomes America’s top candidate for each party. If you’re an Independent, you tend to have less power in this decision making, but if anything, that just means you have more time to breathe and decide with less of the subconscious bias than those who are already registered with a party.

The final countdownIf you are still unsure about your decision, fear not. C-Span and BallotPedia have the world’s largest cheat sheet of information on all the candidates. I will admit, this will take a while, but research always does wonders, and you can take pride in being a well-informed citizen.

Voting can be done at the location listed behind your voter registration card. If you don’t have time for the lines or fuss, you can always send an absentee ballot through the mail. If you haven’t already registered to vote, I suggest you do so at least a month in advance. WikiHow gives us the basic rundown of how to register and vote.

We are part of history. As generic as my statement may be, elections are critical and will shape our futures, and being part of it is key to our experience as Americans. Caring about politics isn’t just an “adult” problem. Contrary to popular belief, we are adults now, and we can’t just wait for the world to change. Our presence must be known.  


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