How to Vote in this Crucial Election

Annabella Agosto, Staff Writer

“I won’t make a difference.” This was the thought that went through about 100 million people’s heads in November of 2016 when they believed their vote would not matter. Nearly 43 percent of eligible voters did not vote in the last presidential election, leaving the popular vote to be won by barely two percent. Perhaps they were not aware of the power a vote has. 

Cartoon by Ariana Tackett

A single vote not only helps select the future leader of our country, but can promote desirable change, fund programs that benefit communities and support movements that voters believe in. Voting is not just electing a candidate, it is choosing the person who will make decisions that will ultimately benefit our community, state and nation.

In Virginia, voting in the upcoming presidential election began on Sept. 18 and continues until Election Day, Nov. 3. To cast a vote in person, voters must be registered, at least 18 years old, and have some form of identification with them at the polling place, such as a Virginia driver’s license. The lines are expected to be long, but if voters are in line when the polls close, they will still be able to cast their ballot. To find out which polling place to go to, depending on location of residence, visit the official Virginia voting website: elections.virginia.gov. 

If voters are worried about voting in person, mail-in voting is still a viable option. To begin, a ballot must have been requested online through the official Virginia voting website by 5 p.m., Oct. 23. After completing the ballot, it can be returned immediately to a local Voter Registration Office or to a polling place on Election Day. The U.S. Postal Service recommends that voters who choose to mail their ballot back send it at least a week prior to Election Day to ensure it arrives on time. 

When filling out a mail-in ballot at home, fill it out on a flat dry surface where it will not be contaminated by foods or liquids, as this could disqualify the ballot. It is also vital to check that voters have signed everywhere that is required because not doing so is one of the most common reasons ballots get rejected. With these steps completed, you have officially cast your vote.