Politics are always a hot topic, and during an election year, it seems to be all anyone is talking about. We hear about it
on the news, see it on our social media feed and we can even hear random conversations about various politicians in the Starbucks line. Most adults tend to know what is going on during the voting season, but what about our kiddos? They see and hear about it just as much as we do, but they might be a little confused about what will go down on election day in November. All children, no matter how old, should be informed about voting and elections. And, if your child is older and maybe even able to vote in this upcoming election, it is time to start teaching them how to vote! We have a voting cheat sheet for you to share to help teens navigate voting season.
One of the first things that you should teach your young voter is the importance of voting in elections. Voting is a basic right in the democratic process, and it is an effective way to make your voice heard. When you cast your vote for president in November, you are actually voting for state electors who will decide which candidate your state will vote for in the Electoral College Process. Just because your vote does not directly determine the president, it still makes an impact on the state level. As Barack Obama once said, “There is no such thing as a vote that doesn’t matter.”
A voter must be at least 18 years old to vote, and they can pre- register to vote starting as early as 16 years old. A voter also must be a U.S. citizen, and they have to be a Florida resident to vote in the state. Those convicted of a felony may not vote unless their rights have been restored. The last date to register to vote for the 2020 election is October 5, 2020.
How do you register to vote?
Thomas J. Pyche, the Director of Communications and Outreach for Alachua County Supervisor of Elections, said that his biggest piece of advice for young voters is to make sure they are registered! “In Florida, if you are not registered 29 days before an election, you can’t vote in that election,” he said. Also, he notes that you can register to vote as early as the age of 16, and your voter registration will become active the day you turn 18.
If someone is eligible to vote, starting the registration process is simple and can be done online! Go to registertovoteflorida.gov or votealachua.com to start the online registering process, or go to the same websites to print out a voter registration application to send in via mail.
When registering, voters will need a Florida Driver’s License or Florida identification card. They will also need to know the date that their license or ID card was issued and the last four digits of their social security number.
How do you know what party to register with, and can you change your party in the future?
The United States has two major political parties: Democratic and Republican. There are other minor parties that are recognized in some states, such as the Libertarian Party, Green Party and Constitution Party; however in the 2020 Presidential Election, only the Democratic and Republican parties are being represented.
The republican party subscribes to the conservatism ideology, while the democratic party subscribes to liberalism. The best way to determine which political party is right for you is to do your research and see which party’s ideals, views and priorities line up with yours! To do that, visit websites like www.diffen.com to compare democrats vs. republicans.
It is important to keep in mind that Florida is a “closed primary election state.” This means that “only voters who are registered members of political parties may vote for respective party candidates or nominees for an office in a primary election,” according to the Florida Department of State. State primary elections determine which candidate will represent each party in the general presidential election. So, if you are registered as a democrat, that means that you can only vote for Democratic candidates in the primary elections.
However, the presidential election is a general election, so all voters in every state can vote for any candidate from any party. In all general elections, voters can vote outside of party affiliations.
How can you vote in the 2020 Presidential Election?
In order to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election on November 3, you must register to vote by October 5, 2020, 29 days before the election. Before voting day, make sure to have a good idea of who you are going to be casting your vote for. Once your ballot is submitted, you can’t change your answer.
Before election day, you also need to figure out where your polling place is (this is where you will fill out and cast your ballot). Your voting location may be different than that of some of your friends or family, so make sure to use the Polling Place Locator at Vote.org to find the right place!
What is a mail-in ballot?
A mail-in ballot is simply a voter’s ballot that is sent to the voter to cast their vote, and then the ballot is mailed back to the office of elections. Any registered voter can request a mail-in ballot or absentee ballot, but there are a few things to keep in mind when using any vote-by-mail ballot. For example, when you mail in your ballot, you must sign it. If your ballot signature and the signature on your voter registration card do not match, your ballot will be denied. Also, make sure to turn in your ballot on time in order for your vote to count!
To request a vote-by-mail ballot, visit www.votealachua.com/ Voters/Vote-by-Mail. The deadline to request a ballot is October 24, 2020. The ballot must be returned by November 3, 2020, by 7 p.m.
What do you need to bring with you when voting?
When you go to your voting location on November 3, you just need one important thing: a valid ID that shows your signature. This is important because your signature on your ID will be checked to make sure that you are you! Other than that, bringing things like a pen into the voting booth is unnecessary, as you will be provided with a ballot pen to use to cast your vote. It is also important to remember that if you bring your phone in with you to vote, it must be silenced.
Voting during COVID-19
Pyche said that the 2020 election process might look a little different this year due to COVID-19. “The biggest thing you’ll see is that, if you vote in person you’ll see that the social distancing procedures are in place,” he said. “Lots of hand sanitizer, folks wearing masks and so forth.”
For those who do not want to go to the polls in person, a vote- by-mail option is always available, but Pyche urges voters to remember to sign their ballot correctly and turn it in on time so that every vote counts.
Pyche said, “We just encourage everybody who’s eligible to get registered and to make their voice heard through elections.” Hopefully, this voting cheat sheet will help your young voter navigate their way through their first voting season! Politics and presidential elections can be stressful for everyone, so make sure to answer any questions they have with patience and understanding. And most importantly, don’t forget to exercise your right to vote on November 3!