Voting is your right as a U.S. citizen, and making your voice heard is critical to our democracy. By exercising your right to vote, you empower yourself, support your community, and ensure that your voice is heard by those seeking to represent you.
Find out when your next election or special election is by plugging in your home zipcode at www.vote.org. Then mark your calendar! Many states changed their voting instructions during the COVID-19 pandemic and have since kept these provisions. Consider voting early or by mail if your state allows. Find the most up-to-date information and state specific links at www.vote.org, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and this ACLU Resource.
It is very important to vote in every election, so make sure you and your community members are registered to vote and have a plan of when and how to vote. The safest way to vote right now is to vote by mail (also called absentee voting). Many states have kept their vote-by-mail options established during the Covid-19 pandemic, and some are even automatically mailing all registered voters an absentee ballot during the pandemic. For other states, you still need to request an absentee ballot.
Refugees can apply for a green card after living in the United States for one year. After living in the United States for a total of five years, refugees can apply for citizenship. Every U.S. citizen can register to vote and vote in federal, state, and local elections. Make sure to register ahead of deadlines and re-register when you move and know how and when to vote and your voting location. Click to learn how to apply for a green card, apply for citizenship, and make sure you are registered to vote!
If you are voting in-person, it is best to vote early to avoid crowds, so check out if and when your state offers early voting options. If you can only vote on Election Day, try to vote at a time of day when your precinct is less likely to be crowded, perhaps in the early morning or mid-afternoon, to avoid the after-work rush. Some polling places will offer curb-side voting, where you can vote from your car. Call your county election administrator ahead of time to see if they offer curbside voting.
Federal elections include voting for President every four years, one representative every two years, and two senators every six years. State and local elections vary by location and are for the governor, state legislators, mayor, county executives, district attorneys, and city council members. Typically, elections are held in early November, although local elections, primaries, special elections and ballot measures – when voters approve or reject certain laws – can take place anytime. You can request or view your sample ballot from your county election administrator or from non-profit organizations like vote411.org before you vote so you can research the candidates. “Primary elections” take place a few weeks before most elections, during which voters can choose which candidates are nominated by a particular political party to compete in the “general election”. In some states, you have to be registered with a particular party in order to vote in primary elections.
Some states will mail a sample ballot to the address your registered to vote at a few weeks before the election. You are allowed to mark this up and take this with you when you vote. You can also find your sample ballot online.
If you need transportation to get to your polling place, schedule a carpool with family and friends, or see if ride-share services, such as Lyft, are offering special discounts for the election.
No, your vote is always private.
If they are citizens, over the age of 18, and registered to vote in time, yes! Take every eligible voter with you when you go to vote and encourage them to vote too!
Voting for people who share your values and care about your issues is a good place to start. Ask officials and candidates questions about their support for refugees during virtual candidate forums and town halls. Here are some ideas:
Post questions and issues that you care about on candidates’ social media profiles and ask for them to respond. Your candidates, just like your elected officials, should be held accountable for their words, promises, and actions. Do some research before you cast your vote!
No one should tell you how to vote – you can decide that for yourself and you don’t have to tell anyone who you are voting for or why. To help you make your decision, you can find a voting guide, sample ballots, and learn more about candidates’ positions on issues you care about www.voiceforrefuge.org. We regularly endorse candidates we have researched and confirmed support refugees and immigrants. Maybe one of our endorsed candidates is on your ballot! This can give you a place to start.
Have additional questions about voting or getting involved in elections? Reach out to us!