Although the general election isn't happening until 2020, tons of other elections could be happening in your area this Nov. 5. In order to make your voice heard, you'll have to know how to find polling places near you, and whether or not you're currently registered to vote. Luckily, this information is all available to you online — so there's no excuse not to participate in democracy at work.
A number of critical elections will take place across the country on Tuesday. Mississippi could elect its first black woman to state office if Democrat Jennifer Riley Collins wins the seat for attorney general. And in Virginia, political control in the state's House of Delegates and Senate will be up for grabs, with most of the seats in each assembly on the ballot.
There are also a number of critical ballot measures taking place in certain states. New Yorkers will have the chance to vote on one that would empower a state board to investigate police officers suspected of lying during review board investigations. Meanwhile, those living in San Francisco will vote on a measure to authorize and regulate the sale of e-cigarettes and other vaping products. In other words, there are plenty of critical reasons to show up and vote, even if this day doesn't attract as much hype as a presidential election.
According to the official government page for voting, you cannot vote online for any election, unless you have very particular extenuating circumstances. Otherwise, you either have to vote in person or via a mail-in ballot. You can learn more about whether you're eligible for a mail-in ballot here. And if you do plan to vote in person on Tuesday, the official website for the U.S. government, Rock the Vote's website, and the I Will Vote website will help you find your closest polling place. Local and state websites should also be tailored to where you live. For example, if you live in Los Angeles, you could use the Los Angeles County website to track down voting information.
After you find where the polling places near you are, you should double check that you're registered to vote, and that you have the proper identification to take with you to the polling place. You can find out your current voter registration status through the official government site, which will direct you towards information on voting registration relevant to the state you live in.
If you're registering to vote for the first time, you should be prepared to give some form of identification, like your driver's license number, or your social security number. As Rock the Vote notes, voting policies change by state, so it might also be helpful to give yourself a quick refresher on your own state's voting policy. In particular, you'll want to find out whether your state offers same-day voter registration on Election Day or allows you to register online.
Consider sharing the information you learn with your family and friends come Voting Day. If you're not sure how to start that conversation, read more about the best ways to tell your friends and family to vote.