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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you know that the Iowa Caucus was on Feb. 1 and the New Hampshire Primary was on Feb. 9. If you were living under a rock, click those links and it will take you to the New York Times’ coverage via graphic form. There’s some fun maps and a breakdown of the voting, which I think is interesting to look at.

It’s officially election season in the US, and that means that soon, you will need to be prepared to vote! The good news is that it’s easy to get prepared. The bad news is that it’s going to be difficult to link to, given the location-based nature of voting! You can go to the Elections Assistance Committee website and find your state’s Board of Elections. That is where you will be able to find out the most accurate information for your area.

Step 1: Make sure you are registered to vote!

Being a registered voter is arguably the most important step on this list, because if you don’t do this one, you can’t do any of the other steps. There are a couple of ways you can do this, depending on your state. Some states allow you to register online, while others require you to mail in your registration form. You can find out on their website, or through Rock The Vote. I think all states will allow you to update or register to vote through the DMV when you update your license or ID.

It is especially important that you make sure that you are registered where you are currently living, or else you may not be able to vote. If you were registered at your college, make sure that you update your registration to your current place of residence! If you go to the wrong polling place, or there’s an error, your vote may not be counted.

Step 2: Get the details for your state’s elections!

There are three really big details that you need to know in order to vote.

Where is your polling place?

Information about will be listed on your voter registration card, once it gets to you, but you can also look it up on your local board of elections website! Make sure that you know where it is before election day, so that you can get in, get your vote on, and be done with it! You should also make sure that you know when the polls open and close so that you don’t miss your chance.

Does your state have a primary/caucus?

I have the pleasure of living in a state where we have a primary, so my voter registration had to be in by Feb. 19 in order to count as registered. You can check the EAC’s election calendar, and see when you need to have your voter registration filed in order to have it counted.

Do you need an ID to vote in your state?

If this is your first time voting, or if your state, like mine, has a stupid Voter ID law, you may need a photo ID. You can find out by clicking this link and searching for your state. If you do need an ID to vote, please make sure that you have one on you when you go to vote!

Step 3: Do your research on the candidates!

What candidates are on the ballot in your state, both local and presidential? Find out and see which one you want to vote for! Again, this is going to be different for everyone, because of your political beliefs and your location. You really should know at least a little about each of the candidates before you go vote, because who you vote for has an effect on the rest of the system.

Last but not least, I’d like to remind everyone to please respect each other, no matter who your friends, family and coworkers are voting for. Everyone has a right to their political opinions, but you don’t need to be a jerk about yours. Now get out and go vote!

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