Why should you vote?
Your vote counts! Learn why. Here is The Iowa Caucus Finder Link
In some countries, citizens are fined if they don’t vote! Some Americans think that’s a good idea. Why? Because the right to vote is one of the basic rights guaranteed by our Constitution. It is one of our most precious rights.
OUR RIGHT, BUT NOT EVERYONE’S RIGHT
There are hundreds of nations in the world. Only a fraction of these nations are democracies or constitutional monarchies. (A democracy is a nation headed by leaders who are elected by the people. A constitutional monarchy is a nation that is headed by a queen or king, who may not have much real power, but which has free democratic elections for all citizens. The United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands are prime examples.) Only part of the world’s population enjoys the right to vote in free democratic elections. Nations such as India, Israel, the Czech Republic, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Australia, Canada, and the European Union countries are democracies, although Canada and Australia still have some political ties to England. Nations such as Turkey have some democratic freedoms and some non-democratic restrictions. Many nations are monarchies, in which one family controls the government; military dictatorships, in which a non-elected leader and his army control the government by force; or, in the case of China, Communist states, in which only one political party is allowed to have power and representation.
In all of these non-democratic nations, the government controls the press, and there is very little opportunity, or none, for free speech. Citizens are not allowed to publicly express any criticism of their government. The most basic rights that U.S. citizens take for granted, such as a speedy and fair trial by jury, and freedom of religion, are not recognized in these non-democratic nations. If they have elections at all, they are usually a sham. Only a few candidates are listed on the ballots, and those are for local office. The people do not get to choose their leaders.
The United States is not the only democracy in the world, but it has been one of the most successful. One reason for its success is its system of laws based on the Constitution. Our Constitution allows for the possibility of change in the way we elect our leaders and representatives. But some basic rights are written into the Constitution, and as long as the United States thrives, these rights can never be taken away.
One of the basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution is the right to vote. That may not seem like a big deal, but it is a very important right—only if YOU use it. Your vote is just as important as the President’s! If you don’t vote, you can’t participate fully in the democratic process. If you do vote, you are a participant. If you don’t, you can only be an onlooker.
Resources for Voters
Before this year’s election, be familiar with the voting process in your State. The following ten tips from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission may help enhance your voting experience.
(1) Register to vote
Most States require citizens to be registered in order to vote. Make sure you understand the voter registration requirements of your State of residence. If you are not registered to vote, apply for voter registration no later than the deadline to register in your State. Contact your local or State elections office or check their Web sites to get a voter registration application and learn the deadline to register.
(2) Confirm your voter registration status
Once you register to vote, check your status with your State or local elections office several weeks before the last day to register to vote. That way, you can change your registration information if needed (for example: name, ad - dress, or other corrections) in time to vote.
(3) Know your polling place location and hours
If you vote at a polling place on Election Day, confirm your polling place location. Make sure you know what time your polling place opens and closes.
(4) Know your State’s voter identification (ID) requirements
Some States require voters to show ID to vote. You can find out what forms of ID your State accepts by contacting your State or local elections office or checking their Web sites.
(5) Understand provisional voting
Federal law allows you to cast a provisional ballot in a Federal election if your name does not appear on the voter registration record, if you do not have ID, or if your eligibility to vote is in question. Your State may provide other reasons for voting by a provisional ballot. Whether a provisional ballot counts depends on if the State can verify your eligibiity. Check with your State or local elections office to learn how to tell if your provisional ballot was counted.
(6) Check the accessibility of your polling place
If you are a voter with minority language needs or you are a voter with special needs or specific concerns due to a disability, your polling place may offer special assistance. Contact your local elections office for advice, materials in a specific language, information about voting equipment, and details on access to the polling place, including parking.
(7) Consider voting early
Some States allow voting in person before Election Day. Find out if your State has early voting in person or by mail and if so when, where, and how you can vote before Election Day. If you choose to vote early by mail, know the deadlines for requesting and returning your ballot. Some States provide dropoff stations for mail ballots, and some States allow voters to return mail ballots to polling places on Election Day.
(8) Understand absentee voting requirements
Most States allow voters to use an absentee ballot under certain circumstances. Check on the dates and requirements for requesting and returning an absentee ballot before Election Day. Absentee ballots often must be returned or postmarked before the polls close on Election Day. Determine your State’s requirements for returning absentee ballots.
(9) Learn about military and overseas voting
Special voting procedures may apply if you are in the U.S. military or you are an American citizen living overseas. You may qualify for an absentee ballot by submitting a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). Contact the Federal Voting Assistance Program or check its Web site: http://www.fvap.gov, for information relating to military and overseas voters.
(10) Get more information
For more on these tips and for answers to other questions about the election process, contact your State or local elections office.