Right now, people across the nation are preparing to vote on Super Tuesday, the day in an election season when the most states hold their primary or caucus. For first-time voters, the process can feel quite complicated. It feels like there are millions of hoops to jump through — not to mention all the research that has to get done before filling out a ballot.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here is a step-by-step guide for both mail-in voting and in-person voting — do whichever works best for you!
There are many resources out there to find out where to vote in person. Since your polling place is assigned to you by neighborhood, you can check your local county election office’s website to find out where to go. The location can change with each election, so make sure to double-check where you’ve been assigned.
If an issue comes up at the polls that prevents you from voting, like if your name isn’t on the registration list at your polling location, you are legally entitled to a provisional ballot in most states. A provisional ballot is a ballot that is used when a voter’s eligibility is in question. This ballot will be kept separate from the others until the office can verify that it was submitted by an eligible voter.
How to vote by mail
Mail-in voting is becoming increasingly popular. In the 2016 Presidential election, 21 percent of all votes were cast by mail. This method is convenient and doesn’t require the wait that voting in person can involve.
If you would like to vote by mail or can’t make it to a polling booth in the state you are registered in, follow these steps to make sure your vote gets counted.
1. Request an absentee ballot
If you are voting by mail, you can request an absentee ballot in several ways.
Fill out the form provided by your county elections office. Most counties will have the form posted on their website (you can find California’s here.)
You should receive a sample ballot before the election. Attached will be an absentee ballot request form. Fill this out and mail it to your county elections office.