Voting is a big responsibility. Don’t wait until election day to decide how to vote. During elections the ballots may include voting on several issues. You may be asked to vote for representatives at different levels of government:
- local level, such as a mayor or member of the city council;
- state level, such as members of the state legislature or governor; or
- federal level, such as members of Congress and the president.
You also may be asked to vote on a state or local initiative or project, such as funding for schools or a change in a law.
It is important that you plan your vote ahead of time. Information about the candidates and initiatives may not be available at voting place. To be prepared, you should find out which candidates are running for office and what their positions are. You should know what initiatives or questions are on the ballot. Sources of information about candidates and issues could include local and national newspapers, the Internet, television news and information programs, and advocacy organizations (although some advocacy organizations, like the NAD, are not permitted to endorse a particular candidate).
Organizations or government offices in your community may hold meetings or forums on the candidates or issues. In most cases, the organization hosting the meeting is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to make its meeting accessible to people with disabilities, including deaf and hard of hearing people. You can ask for accommodations such as a sign language interpreter, communication access realtime translation (CART), an assistive listening device, or other auxiliary aid or service that that will result in effective communication with you.
Before the election, registered voters may receive a sample ballot in the mail. (For information about registering to vote, visit http://www.register-vote.com.) Take some time to look at the sample ballot, see which candidates are running, and see whether there are any issues or questions you are being asked to vote on. Often times the questions are written in “legalese” and may be difficult to understand. That is why it is important to obtain information from other sources, such as the sources mentioned above. Often these other sources explain the issues in terms that are easier to understand. Keep in mind that no matter where you get your information, you must analyze what you read and come to your own decision about how you will vote.
Make sure you know where to go on voting day. If you don’t know where your polling (voting) place is, you can find out by contacting your state elections office. Click here to find information about your state.
If you are registered to vote, but you can’t travel to your polling place to vote on election day, you may wish to vote by absentee ballot. Click here for more information on absentee voting.
“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”
– George Jean Nathan
Do your part, and be a prepared voter!