News·3 min read

Prep for the Polls: What to Bring to Vote in the Midterms

A woman voting
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
Nov 2, 2022

ICYMI: The 2022 midterm elections are on Tuesday, Nov 8. And there are a few things you need to know — and do — before heading to the polls. Most importantly, registering to vote (if you haven’t already). And making sure you know your state’s deadlines to register and vote. Because your ballot will help determine who runs everything from local to federal government. Which, in turn, can influence major issues from climate change and the economy, to reproductive rights and gun laws.   

Psst...Each state operates elections differently. Which means rules and laws around polling hours, early voting, voter registration and more depend on where you live. But we'll give you some general ideas on how you can get prepped and ready for the polls.

How do I know if I'm registered to vote?

Quick refresh: If you’re a US citizen, 18 years old on or before Election Day, have not been convicted of a felony, and are registered, you’re eligible to vote in the midterm elections. To find out if you’re actually registered to vote, check your voter registration status here.

Got it. And how do I register to vote?

Start here. All you need is your basic info (like your name, address, and contact information) to get going. And if you live in a state that allows it, you can both register and vote on election day.

Can I vote early? 

It depends. Example: You can vote up to 10 days before Election Day in New York. And 30 days early in Nebraska. But some states (looking at you, Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi, and New Hampshire) don’t offer in-person early voting at all. Find out if this is an option for you here.

What if I’m not able to vote in-person?

You can vote via an absentee ballot (aka voting by mail). But your state may have specific requirements to be cleared to vote absentee. Like if you’re disabled, a student, or out of town on Election Day. 

Also: Check your state’s deadline for requesting and sending in an absentee ballot. Because some states only require that the ballot is postmarked by Election Day. While others require it to be received by then.

What do I need to bring to vote? 

Before you head out, check your polling hours. Once you’re there, you may need to show some form of identification. Think: A photo ID (like a driver’s license or state ID) or non-photo ID (like a bank statement that shows your name and address).

In some states, voters without ID can complete a provisional ballot. Aka a ballot that ensures you can cast a vote even if your eligibility is unclear at your polling place. Once the polls close, election officials will look into whether you are eligible to vote. Heads up: They might give you a Provisional Identification Number (PIN) that you can use to follow up on the status of your ballot on your state gov’s website.

How do I know what's on my ballot? 

Glad you asked. We broke down all the positions you might find on the ballot (and what they do) right here. And you can see the candidates and ballot measures you’ll vote on here. So you can stop feeling overwhelmed by what a labor commissioner even is, and start voting for policies and candidates you believe in.

Pro tip: Consider researching the candidates and policies on your ballot before heading to the polls. And while you’re doing your side-Googling, keep an eye out for misinformation and disinformation. See: The unfounded claims of voter fraud circulating on Twitter. 

theSkimm

The midterm elections might not sound as important as a presidential election, but exercising your voting right now is just as important. Because your vote has the power to initiate change. So check your registration status, mark your calendar, and check your state’s ID requirements. Then celebrate with some cute “I Voted” merch

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