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Vote Informed!

Coming up this Tuesday is Election Day.

This day is especially important, no matter what party you consider yourself affiliated with, or whether or not you affiliate with any party at all.

Over the past six years, there has been a lot of change in regard to the way our country runs, and that is the natural, awesome part of the United States that makes it so unique to the rest of the world. America is a progressive country that, while being over 200 years old, is still young and growing.

This election and its results on Tuesday have the power to strongly influence the next six years for us as the United States of America and as individual Americans. If you think about it, many of these newly elected officials are going to carry their ideas through the last half of President Obama’s time in office and through the entire first term of our next president. Starting to carry a bit more weight?

So, how exactly does voting work?

I’m sure we could all use a little crash course. It’s been awhile since civics class!

For months, and sometimes years leading up to Election Day, people with a certain amount of activism in the party they affiliate with declare they are going to run for office. They launch a campaign of advertisements, speaking engagements, special appearances, political rallies, and more to tell you all about what they are going to do when you elect them into office.

Then, on Election Day, you walk up to the polling station listed on your voter’s registration card (that I hope you all signed up for on your 18th birthday), and you vote for the candidates you feel best represent what you stand for and what you believe is right for your city, region, state, and country. These are the people you entrust to go to the Higher Ups and fight for what you want.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen and their motives aren’t always crystal clear when you see them bashing other candidates on commercials, about how they actually do love puppies, unlike what their running mates claim.

For this, I encourage you to become an informed voter! Take some time before you vote to look at sample ballots for the area where you vote, look up your districts you vote for, and then learn everything you can about the candidate. Don’t just blindly vote for the party you’re registered in. They may not have the best interests that you believe in at heart.

Vote for the person you believe in. Don’t be pressured by others and advertisements. Vote based on your convictions, and even if they don’t win, you’ll know that you at least made your voice heard in the number of votes they did get. If it’s a large enough number, maybe you’ll be showing the state and country that what the losing candidate stood for is something that should still be considered. Maybe I’m dreaming. Maybe this isn’t true, but what if it is?

Before you go to vote, go to your state’s website and look up a sample ballot. I pulled up one for Harrison County, since that is where I’m registered, and I looked at the ballot and all of my options. There’s a top option to vote straight party ticket. If you vote for the straight party ticket, unless you have fully done your research, you are an uninformed voter. That’s not doing your duty as an American. You have a little power to affect change, so take it seriously!

Next, make sure you read all of the heading directions. It’s kind of like a test, but there are no wrong answers. It sounds weird, like no one wins and no one loses and everyone gets a participation prize, but there are winners and losers.

Sometimes, there are amendments to vote on. On the ballot, it is explained about what they will do, but take your time thinking about what that will mean for the future and your life.

Now that voting isn’t as fun as decorating a Christmas tree with your pencil, have an inquisitive mind that wants to know! Happy Voting!

2015 graduate, and part of the founding HerCampus WVWC team, Stephanie now works as a Technical Writer for a technology contractor in Bridgeport, WV. Stephanie married her husband, JR, in October 2014, and together they have one toddler girl who is stealing their hearts and sanity one day and one dumped bowl of crackers at a time.
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