It’s that time of year again! It’s voting time! As an awkward person, everything about voting in person is scary and stressful, but it’s such an important part of the democratic process. The system doesn’t work unless we all get involved… even the awkward people. It’s too late for early voting (which is probably the easiest solution for you awkward folks out there), but you still don’t have to be stressed or scare yourself out of participating. Voting is an awesome responsibility but it isn’t as nerve wracking as it can seem. In fact it is one of the quietest, most introverted ways to make your voice heard. So get to it! Here are some last minute tips to make it as painless as possible.
Find your reason.
Find an issue or a race that matters to you and makes you feel like your vote matters. There are no shortage of issues facing our states and country as a whole. A couple of them probably matter to you, even if you haven’t thought much about how the vote you cast plays a part. If you’re a woman, remember that suffragettes fought for years and went to jail to get you the right to vote. Reminding yourself of the purpose and value in the difficult action makes it easier to go, at least for me.
Do your research.
You can find your ballot online pretty easily. I usually use Vote411 but I’ve also used Ballotpedia. There are a lot of other personalized ballot tools online. If you’re in a more rural area, you might still end up with some local political races that you don’t know about, but you can find a lot of information about the statewide and national races you’ll be voting for. You can see, in many cases, overviews of the positions each candidate has.
From there you can also review their websites, interviews and social media interactions to try to get a sense of their positions. Understand that everyone is trying to say what they think you want to here, but you can get the basics to make an informed choice. Mark it on your ballot and print a copy to take with you. You don’t have to memorize your choices. Bring it with you and you can feel a little more confident in what you’ll have to do on voting day. It’s also a good idea to review your rights as a voter, just in case. Here’s a good resource from Rock the Vote.
Make a plan.
Find your polling place and it’s hours. Again, a quick search will help you out. Figure out when you can fit voting into your schedule. Write it down. Block it off on your calendar. Don’t miss it. Factor in travel time and a bit of standing in line. Find a buddy to go with. Just have a solid plan that is feasibly built into your day. You can help yourself know what’s going to happen and hype yourself up for it. It will probably require a little more stress than your average day, but you can do it if you just think it through.
I also usually plan out other aspects of my day as well. I try to have an outfit planned (because a good outfit can make a good day better). If the outfit pays homage to suffragettes or matches my voting sticker- all the better! Having a lunch packed and a plan for the evening also helps because it helps me feel more in control of an out-of-the-ordinary day. Make sure you’ve located your voting card the night before as well!
Go at an unusual time.
Depending on where your live, certain time at a polling place can busy. Waiting in long lines of people talking about politics might seem like a nightmare for your poor awkward girl heart… at least it is for mine. If you can avoid peak voting times like the evening and during lunch, you might be better off. I try to go first thing in the morning. There are usually some people during that time, but I’ve always had luck getting through quickly.
Also be prepared to walk through a wall of people to to get in. Just put on a smile and let them know you’ve made your decision and keep walking. If anyone bothers you past that, please let someone know in the polling place. No one is supposed to harass you on your way to the poll. Also remember that your polling place is staffed by volunteers so offer them a smile too, if you can. Their might be some awkward interactions with them, but they also help the democratic process work.
Give yourself a reward.
Ok, you did it! You voted. Now treat yourself to something a little bit special! I almost always go out for a coffee and a scone before work since I have to get up earlier than usual on voting day. But if you’re not into that sort of treat, treat yourself to some extra couch time after work or a special dinner. Anything that adds a little fun into a stressful day and allows you to look forward to a reward. Hopefully you’ll also get a sticker because there’s something magic about getting rewarded with a sticker (or is that just me?).