Election Day is upon us.  Are you Ready?

Could Election day really be only 7 days away?! I am sure most of us are relieved… “FINALLY!” Just think, after next Tuesday there will be no more candidate commercials. No more political rants in our Facebook news feed. No more constant media coverage…. Actually, those of us on the East Coast have gotten a reprieve from all the political talk thanks to Hurricane Sandy who has taken all the media attention away from Barrack and Mitt the past few days!

Election Day – Be Prepared

But weather aside, Election Day is only a week away. Are you ready to cast your vote? Can you vote early? Do you know who you are going to vote for? Beyond the presidential race, do you know who and/or what is on your ballot? Do you know where to go to vote? Do you know what you need to bring to your polling place (if anything)? Here are some ways to find the answers to these questions and to make sure you are prepared to cast your vote.

Voter Registration

There are several states where it is still not too late to register to vote! Presidential Elections are given a longer registration deadline, and in some states you can actually register on Election Day. To find out what the laws are in your state, check this list of voter registration deadlines.

Early Voting and Absentee Ballots

What is the difference between Early Voting and Absentee Ballots? Early Voting is done in person at a designated voting place, before November 6th. No reason for the need of early voting is required. Not every state offers the option of voting early. Absentee Ballots, on the other hand, ARE offered by every state. In most states a person needs to give a specific reason as to why he or she is requesting an Absentee Ballot. Someone who is attending college out of state would likely request an absentee ballot. Absentee voting usually requires advanced planning. There would need to be enough notice to have the ballot mailed to the voter and for the voter mail it back by the deadline. Absentee Ballots can also be picked up and dropped off in person. For more information on your states dates and deadlines for Early Voting and Absentee Ballots, check out Long Distance Voter.  Get yourself ready for Election Day.

Candidate Information

I am sure everyone has heard by now the differences between Obama and Romney, but do you know anything about your local and state candidates? The website Project Vote Smart is a great place to start when looking for information on candidates. Just type in your postal zip code and lists of all your candidates are available. Click on their names and you can get some background information for most. There is also a link provided to show any Ballot Measures that could be up for vote in your area.

Voter ID

Voter ID requirements vary drastically by state. With the threat of voter fraud, a lot of states are in the process of making their requirements more strict with only accepting photo ID. To make it even more confusing, some states have even passed the law to require a photo ID, but the law does not take affect until future elections. To make sure you have the proper identification when checking in at your polling place, check out the Voter ID: State Requirements list on the NCLS website.

All of the above mentioned links are a great place to begin when preparing for Election Day, but the best and most accurate source for your state and town voter information is your local Registrar of Voters Office, and in most states, the Secretary of State's Office.

Tracey Logan Hanson, USA Love List's Green Living Editor, is the Deputy Registrar for her town. She has been working elections as a Checker, Ballot Clerk, Machine Tender or Moderater for almost 10 years. Photo by Shawn Clover.