Voting has the potential to shape a country’s future — which is why it's important to exercise your right to participate in the democratic process.
But the task of getting all your documents sorted and trying to prepare for Election Day can sometimes feel overwhelming. It’s easy to miss important registration deadlines, forget to update your voting information, or never discover you were removed from a voter roll in error.
Luckily, you can take steps right now to make sure you're ready to vote — and our partner HeadCount has you covered.
Here’s a list of the six main things you should know before voting on Election Day.
1. How do I know if I'm registered to vote?
There's no time like the present to make sure you're registered to vote. You can check your voter registration status online right now.
If you're not already registered, some states allow you to register to vote online. Visit HeadCount's Voter Info Hub for more information, and be sure to check the voter registration deadlines in your state so you give yourself plenty of time.
2. How do I know where to vote?
Once you have everything you need to vote, you need to know where to cast your ballot.
You can find your local polling place by checking HeadCount’s polling place finder. Information might be updated right before Election Day and polling places can sometimes move, so make sure to check the location close to when you plan to vote.
Sometimes your voter information card or certificate will also include your local polling place’s address, but it’s good to double-check. You can also call or check your state election office website to find out where you should go to vote.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people are planning on voting by mail to stay safe. You should check to see what your state guidelines are regarding voting by mail and if you need any to go through any additional steps.
3. What if I go to the polls and find out I'm not registered?
First, make sure you're in the right polling location. If you've already called your state election office and can't verify your registration, you should fill out a provisional ballot and make sure that you are registered for upcoming elections.
4. What is a provisional ballot?
You'll receive a provisional ballot if the polling location can't confirm your voting eligibility, which often happens due to out-of-precinct voting, if you haven't updated your address on your voter registration, or if you can't provide sufficient identification.
Provisional ballots aren't counted until after your eligibility can be confirmed, but some laws about provisional voting vary state by state. That process usually happens after Election Day and would only influence an extremely close or tied election.
The best way to make sure your vote is counted and avoid using a provisional ballot is to make sure you're registered to vote by your state's deadline.
5. Is a voter card an acceptable form of ID?
Although it can vary, voter cards are not acceptable IDs in most states. You can see what is acceptable on HeadCount’s voter ID page.
6. What do I do if I think my voting rights have been denied?
If you're eligible to vote, you can't be denied your voting rights regardless of race, religion, sexuality, disability, or sexual orientation.
If you think your rights have been violated, you should contact Election Protection’s voting rights hotline. The organization is a national, nonpartisan coalition that has lawyers to help you, working to ensure all voters have an equal opportunity to make their voices heard. Call 866-OUR-VOTE for English speakers, 888-VE-Y-VOTA for Spanish speakers, 844-YALLA-US for Arabic speakers, and 888-API-VOTE for Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Urdu, Hindi, and Bengali/Bangla.
You can also contact HeadCount at firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
Global Citizen and HeadCount have teamed up to launch Just Vote, a campaign mobilizing young Americans to register to vote ahead of the 2020 election and beyond. As part of the campaign, your favorite artists and entertainers are offering exclusive experiences, performances, and memorabilia — and they can only be unlocked once eligible voters check their voter registration status. Learn more about Just Vote and how you can take action here.