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In Virginia, if one is a full-time college student, over 65, in the military or are physically handicapped they qualify for an absentee ballot, but this year a reason isn’t needed because of COVID-19.

When it comes to voting, it’s important to be properly informed and up to date with policies, dates and current events. With 2020 being a presidential election year, making sure one is informed about candidates, what issues are at stake and where to vote is crucial. Whether one is a first time voter or an experienced voter, these are some important aspects to remember when voting in November. 

Make sure to register before the deadline 

Before going to the voting booth, it’s important for one to ensure they’re registered to vote in their state. In Virginia, the deadline to register for voting online, in person and by mail is Tuesday, Oct.13. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Friday, Oct. 23, and Saturday, Oct. 31 is the last day to apply in person for an absentee ballot. 

Research candidates

Being an informed voter is crucial when voting in November. Researching candidates and finding out where they stand on certain issues allows for voters to form their own opinions instead of relying on media coverage and biased advertisements. By looking into candidates, voters will learn exactly who their vote will go to. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities offers a guide for those who wish to become an informed voter. 

Check state regulations

Before going to vote, one must find out if their state has any regulations. Some states won’t allow for absentee ballots without a reason, others require one or more forms of identification and some require a voter registration card and political party registration. In Virginia, all one needs to bring when they vote is a form of identification. Finding out state regulations allows for voters to be prepared when they go to their polling station. 

Learn what issues are at stake during the election 

Along with researching candidates, it’s important for voters to research the issues that are at stake during the election. A recent Gallup poll found that the economy, health care, national security, education and immigration are issues that voters find most important when it comes to the presidential election. Along with the main issues at stake, voters should research where their candidate stands on issues that are important to them. 

Research how to get an absentee ballot if needed 

For those who don’t feel safe voting in person, go to school in another state or county or are 65 or older, requesting an absentee ballot is the way to vote. Absentee ballots allow one to vote by mail before the election if they’re unable to vote in person on Election Day. Different states have different regulations when it comes to who can obtain an absentee ballot. In Virginia, if one is a full-time college student, over 65, in the military or are physically handicapped they qualify for an absentee ballot, but this year a reason isn’t needed because of COVID-19. To obtain an absentee ballot, one needs to call their local voting office or look at their state’s Department of Elections website. 

Find out where the polling station is and when the best time to go 

After researching the candidates and issues, one is finally ready to vote. On Election Day, polling places are determined by address. If one is unsure where their polling location is, they can contact their election office or use Get to the Polls’ voting information tool. If one is concerned about social distancing and how many people are going to be at the polling place, they can research what measures they have in place to protect against COVID-19 and what time would be the best for them to vote. 

When it comes to voting in the November election, finding out the issues at stake, researching the candidates and taking the right measures to ensure one can vote are all important aspects to remember. Following all of these tips will make one more informed about who exactly they are voting for and will make them able to vote in a more educated way.

Contact Morgan Vuknic at vuknicma@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, as, and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Instagram and Twitter @Breeze_Culture.