Does the date November 8 ring a bell? Sure, it’s National Cappuccino Day, of course — but it’s also Election Day. On that Tuesday, millions of Americans will take part in a historic occasion: They’ll elect the next President of the United States, and decide on governors, representatives, senators and local issues. It's going to be, well, yuuuge. If you’re heading to the polls, there are a few things to know ahead of time. Are you registered to vote, and do you know where to find your polling station? Can you navigate the nuances of talking politics, and the prep involved in an international move? Don’t worry, just take a few minutes to read up on what to know before casting your vote.
Make Sure You’re Registered to Vote...
Being able to vote is a privilege, so you should take advantage of the chance to voice your opinions by ballot. Besides getting informed on the social and political issues of this election cycle, the item at the top of your to-do list should be checking where you’re registered to vote. Each state has different deadlines for voter registration, so you should find out more about your state’s voter eligibility requirements, registration timelines and mail-in ballot rules ASAP — you wouldn’t want a missed deadline to prohibit you from fulfilling your civic duty. At the same time, write down "Election Day" in your calendar so you definitely won’t forget.
...And If You’re Not, Register Online
Some states won’t let you vote on Election Day without prior registration — and it wouldn't be fun to miss out on the special “I Voted” sticker. Make sure you’re good to go by registering online before your state’s deadline. You can't make the excuse that it'll take too much time, either. Pull out your smartphone and do it while eating breakfast, commuting on the bus or procrastinating at work.
Find Your Polling Station Location
Did you know that you can’t just vote anywhere in your state? You have a specific local polling station that depends on where you live and may change from election to election. On Monday night, take a few minutes before bed to look up your polling station online or on the back of the ballot mailed to your house. You should also be aware of the polling times. You may be able to go before heading to the office, or just before grabbing dinner.
Know the Dos and Don’ts of Supporting Your Candidate
The election has been a hot conversation topic for more than a year now. We all know how a face-to-face chat about who we’re voting for or a Facebook comment thread on a news article can quickly heat up and turn into something personal. Take some time to learn how to maturely and responsibly support your preferred candidate without being offensive. November 9 will come, and you'll want to still have friends when it does.
Read Up on International "Vacations"
And if you think you’ll have the itch to travel post-November, it doesn’t hurt to do some preemptive research. Take Canada, for example — you’ll need a visa, a list of sites for the best camping and an itinerary of the restaurants you'll want to visit. But after perusing these guides, you’ll be all set to take on November 8 and exercise your right to vote.