Have you ever seen people walking around in past years with an “I voted” sticker and felt a little twinge of guilt because you didn’t have one? I know I have. Tomorrow is Election Day, and these midterm elections have everyone on the edge of their seats. If Republicans win six seats, they can take control of the Senate, and races in key states like Arkansas, Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Kansas remain incredibly tight.
While there are always going to be some people who choose not to vote because they believe their vote doesn’t matter or because they don’t like any of the candidates, I really do believe our country’s relatively low rates of voter turnout stem from two primary facts: (1) people have hectic schedules on Election Day, and (2) people simply aren’t aware it’s Election Day.
These days, between work, school, kids, family, and everything else we participate in or help out with, our time is both limited and valuable. I, for one, know that breaking my daily routine can completely stress me out. One simple way to be sure you’re ready is to create a clear voting plan for yourself on Election Day. Block out an hour before work, during lunch, or after work to go vote and actually write it in your calendar. Figure out ahead of time how you’ll get there and what information (like ID or proof of residence) you will need to bring with you. Incorporating voting into your day as you would any other event outside your normal routine makes you much more likely to actually go vote on Election Day.
In addition to our crazed schedules, many Americans who would like to vote don’t do so simply because they forget it’s Election Day. Living in Washington, it’s a little hard to imagine not knowing when elections are (seriously, people here actually make plans in advance to go to bars on election night to watch the returns), but for the rest of the country with lives that don’t revolve entirely around politics, tomorrow will be just any other Tuesday. So, in addition to making your plan to vote, see if you can also remind at least three other people it’s Election Day. Post a link to local polling locations on Facebook, tweet about how excited you are to vote, and tell your family and coworkers to stop by the polls as well. Simply reminding people about the elections will help mobilize those who are want to vote but may have just forgotten.
Regardless of your political beliefs, this election is an important one, and getting people to vote, especially in states with tight races, will undoubtedly have an impact on the outcome. So make your plan to vote tomorrow and tell everyone you know they should do the same. And once you’ve done this, in addition to feeling like a proud, civically-engaged American, you’ll get to be the one walking around the office or the grocery store or down the street smugly wearing that coveted “I voted” sticker and making everyone else feel slightly guilty if they haven’t yet made it to the polls.