The 2020 United States presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3rd. What will you be doing that day?
The United States' 59th presidential election is upcoming! Before we get into the details, let's discuss. What exactly is a presidential election? In the U.S., they are indirect elections in which American citizens who are registered to vote in one of the 50 U.S. states or Washington, D.C. cast ballots for members of the Electoral College, who in turn determine the president and vice president of the United States.
From February to August 2020, several presidential primary elections were held across the U.S. In a way, the nomination process is another indirect election. Voters cast ballots selecting delegates for a political party's nominating convention, who in turn elect their party's nominees. Donald J. Trump, the current U.S. president, secured the Republican nomination alongside Mike Pence, the current U.S. vice president.
Former vice president Joe Biden secured the Democratic nomination for president. On August 11th, Senator Kamala Harris from California was announced as his running mate. Meanwhile, the Libertarian nomination was secured by Jo Jorgensen with Spike Cohen as her running mate, and the Green nomination was secured by Howie Hawkins with Angela N. Walker as his running mate.
On December 14th, presidential electors (members of the Electoral College) will vote to elect the president and vice president of the U.S. The winners of the 2020 United States presidential election will be inaugurated on January 20th of 2021.
Why Should I Vote?
So, you have the general information. Now, why should you vote in the 2020 United States presidential election? It's important to remember - your vote is your voice!
1. Every Vote Matters
Regardless of what you've been told, your vote absolutely matters. Elections have major consequences, and several have been won by a narrow margin. For example, Al Gore lost the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush in 2000. During the election, Bush won Flordia by 0.009% of the votes cast, or 537 votes! If 600 more voters in support of Gore headed to the polls, there could've possibly been an entirely different president from 2000-2008.
2. The Election Goes Beyond President
The primary purpose of the U.S. presidential election is to determine the president and vice president, of course. However, it goes beyond that - the results affect issues important to you (e.g. housing, education, employment, healthcare). Politicians make laws that protect or restrict social freedoms. Use your vote as a chance to speak out!
3. Voting Equalizes Us
At least in the U.S., all citizens over the age of 18 are entitled to their vote. Every citizen gets an equal say - their one vote. This wasn't always the case. The 15th amendment to the U.S. constitution prohibited denying a citizen the right to vote based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The 19th amendment to the U.S. constitution prohibited denying a citizen the right to vote on account of gender. Regardless of race, gender, social status, etc., any citizen has their right to vote. So, use it!
4. Democracy Fails Without You
Simply put, democracy is a political system in which the supreme power is vested in the people. In the U.S., our supreme power is exercised by those we elect, directly or indirectly - our president, vice president, the 100 U.S. senators, the 435 U.S. representatives. Without voting, we lose sight of the foundation the United States was built on. If you believe democracy is a fair form of government, then support it.
5. Vote for the Next Generation
This Earth won't always be ours. Neither will our nation. The decisions we make today will impact our children, grandchildren, and every generation to follow! Therefore, cast your vote for them. Make choices that'll improve their lives by creating an environment that upholds their unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the United States.
How Can I Vote? (For First-Time Voters)
Becoming a first-time voter is a process, but not necessarily a long or difficult one! There are countless resources available, both at the state and federal level, to help people unfamiliar with voting. (Use this resource to find your local or state election office website).
Register to Vote
Because voter registration isn't federally managed, states across the U.S. have unique requirements and registration deadlines. Generally, you must be a U.S. citizen above the age of 18 on or before Election Day. (Use this resource to see requirement details) Most states allow qualifying residents to register online, in person, or via a paper form. Registration deadlines vary across the U.S., so be mindful of that! (Use this resource to find your state's voting information).
Research Political Parties & Candidates
Aim to be an informed voter and select candidates based on their stated platforms, rather than party propaganda or media coverage. (Use this resource to as a guide to informed voting). When you're familiar with political parties, learn about the major issues at stake, and consider how different candidate viewpoints align with your personal beliefs!
Find Your Polling Place
In some states, you'll be sent a voter card to confirm that you're registered. Usually, it will include your designated polling place. If that information isn't provided, don't panic! (Use this resource to find your local polling place). Some states require you to bring an ID to your polling place. (Use this resource to check your state's identification requirements).
If you'd rather not go to a polling place, mail-in absentee and early voting options are available! The former allows you to vote by mail, and the latter lets you vote during a designated early voting period. (Use this resource to find alternative voting option deadlines).
Cast Your Ballot
Nowadays, many states use electronic voting systems. To feel fully confident on Election Day, go ahead and research how these voting machines work beforehand. (Use this resource for information on voting machines). Remember, voters may not have to vote for every office on the ballot. Additionally, a write-in is allowed if your candidate of choice isn't on the official ballot. (Use this resource to see a sample presidential election ballot).
That was a lot of information, right? Well, worry not reader! You've just taken the first step in performing your civic duty, being informed. Now, go back through and perform the actions necessary to ensure a successful voting process. Hope to see you walking out of a polling place with an "I Voted!" sticker on Election Day!