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How Do You Vote for a Community?

September 25, 2023

Every vote matters–especially in local elections. A single vote can determine if your beliefs and opinions get represented and if you have a voice in how things are managed in your area.

While many people may dismiss this idea without a second thought, it’s worth pausing for a second and thinking of when you might be in a jam and really need someone in authority to hear you out.

If fair and just living conditions are important to you, it’s essential that you vote in your community elections. In this post, you’ll get a step-by-step guide for voting and playing your role in building a responsible society.

Step 1: Determine if You’re Eligible to Vote

Every election has eligibility requirements, and you may not be able to participate in all types of community elections. 

For example, say you’re a renter in your county. You may be able to cast a vote in school board elections but not in your community association election, as the eligibility criteria for each election may be different.

In a school board election, you can cast a vote if:

  • You live in that area
  • You are over eighteen years old and a citizen
  • Registered to vote

For a community association election, however, you need to meet all three criteria above and own property in the community. After all, it doesn’t make sense for people who don’t own a home in a community to have a say in how it is run.

Some jurisdictions may also require voters to have a clean criminal record, be mentally competent, and be in alignment with local laws. Make sure to check the eligibility criteria of the specific election you are concerned about before you dive deeper into the voting process.

Step 2: Research Community Issues

Educate yourself about the current status of your community and the profile of each candidate and/or issue. You can begin your research by identifying key problems and issues in your community that you observe personally and supplement this with relevant information from local news outlets, community forums, and government reports. 

Once analyzed, evaluate each candidate’s experience and viewpoints on possible solutions to the issues at hand. Usually, their election campaign office will give this information to you.

Step 3: Familiarize Yourself With Voting Methods

It’s now time to become familiar with modern voting methods. Several voting methods are commonly used in community elections, including:

In-Person Voting

This traditional method requires you to cast your vote at a designated polling location on a specific day. To make the most of in-person voting, you should:

  • Determine your assigned polling location and its operating hours well in advance. This information is often available through local election authorities and online resources.
  • Ensure you have the necessary identification documents, which can include a government-issued photo ID, voter registration card, or proof of residency. Requirements may vary by jurisdiction, so check local regulations.

Absentee Voting

Absentee voting allows eligible voters to cast their ballots if they are unable to vote in person for a valid reason (e.g., travel, illness, or military service). Here’s what you need to do to participate in absentee voting:

  • Learn about the eligibility criteria for absentee voting in your jurisdiction. Common eligibility reasons include being out of town, having a disability, or serving in the military at a remote location.
  • Familiarize yourself with the process for requesting an absentee ballot and the deadline for submission. The process may involve submitting an application and receiving a ballot by mail.

Early Voting

Early voting allows you to cast a vote before the election day. You need to have a valid reason to do this.

To participate in early voting, reach out to your community association management and ask about the guidelines. They’ll explain the details about their early voting mechanism, eligibility criteria, locations, and schedules.

Online Voting

Online voting allows eligible voters to cast their ballots through a secure online platform such as the one offered by ElectionBuddy. More and more areas are exploring and implementing online voting. as a more convenient and accessible option. 

To participate in online voting:

  • Check if online voting is available in the election.
  • If online voting is an option, familiarize yourself with the registration process. You might want to check how they manage your personal information and calculate votes.

Step 4: Mark Your Calendar and Cast a Vote

Lastly, register to vote, mark the election date on your calendar, and vote! Be sure to gather all necessary documents (such as your ID and registration confirmation) well in advance.

In Summary

It is also a good idea to plan how you’ll get to the polling place. You want to arrange transportation ahead of time or explore alternative ways to participate to ensure you’re part of the percentage of people who vote in community elections!

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