7 Things You Can Do to be Civically Engaged this Election Day

Election Day is quickly approaching! On Tuesday, November 7th, registered voters across Massachusetts’ will head the polls for municipal and special state elections. It’s an annual reminder that being active in your community can help improve it, and civic participation is key to a functioning democracy. Here are seven ways that you can prepare for our upcoming Election Day, and, in turn, be more engaged in your community:

1. Make sure you’re registered to vote

It may sound obvious, but be sure to double check your registration status. You’ll want to confirm you’re registered at the correct address. If you’re a Massachusetts voter, the Secretary of State’s Office has the option to check your registration online here, and if you’re not registered yet, there’s an online option to do that as well. Otherwise, head down to your local Election Department to register in-person or mail your registration paperwork in time.

2. Make your voting plan 

Are you going to vote via absentee ballot? Are you going to go to your town’s early voting hours? Are you heading to the polls on Election Day? Deciding what your course of action will be is key to ensure you make it to the polls. A 2010 study completed by joint researchers from Harvard University and Notre Dame University found that voters who planned what time they’ll vote, knew where their polling location was, and decided how they were going to get there were more likely to turnout than those without a similar plan.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot in Massachusetts is October 31st at 5:00 p.m. They must reach your local election office by the close of voting on Election Day to be counted; they are not accepted at polling locations. Check your local municipalities’ election resources to determine where and when early voting will be held for you.

3. Research who and what will be on your ballot

Take some time before you head out to the polls to look into what positions are open in your city or town this upcoming election. Research your local candidates’ platforms and start thinking about whose ideas most resonate with you. Having a sense of what candidates you like and support will make it easier on you in the voting booth and will help to avoid any last minute Googling. A good place to start is with your local news outlet and reading what coverage they’ve put out around prospective candidates and the election.

4. Check in with your friends, family and peers

If you’re preparing to vote, double check and see if your friends and family are doing the same. It may be a good time to have conversations about potential candidates running and what your local community needs. Talking with others may help expand or reinforce your viewpoint on an issue or a candidate, and it may do the same for them as well.

If they sound hesitant, share your voting plans with them and encourage them to develop their own. Some may need help or have questions, but if you have the knowledge and the resources, work with them to figure out their next steps for November 7th.

5. Volunteer or get involved

Maybe you feel passionately about a candidate or an issue on this upcoming ballot. Now is a great time to reach out to their campaign and see how you can help. There are a lot of opportunities, and campaigns are always looking for more people to offer support or time! Whether it be holding signs for a candidate, working as a local poll worker or supporting some final Get Out The Vote initiatives, there are lots of ways to get involved in your local community right now.

6. Continue the work 

If, through this process, you’ve found a topic, a candidate, or an area that has resonated strongly with you, stay engaged! There is always opportunity to continue being civically engaged, whether it is election season or not. Your involvement could help improve your community and make an impact on future elections. Find organizations or local opportunities within your municipality that speak to your interests, and continue your work as an active citizen.

7. Election Day as a Holiday

Although it is not a federal holiday, in recent years, we’ve seen more private companies close on Election Day to support employees’ access to the polls and electoral volunteer efforts. This year, similar to years’ past, Benchmark Strategies is observing a Civic Day of Action and closing its doors on November 7th to give staff the time to volunteer, work the polls, cast their ballots, and support civic engagement efforts across the company.