By Marissa Cohen
In case you haven’t been following the news lately, the 2020 primary elections are coming up next year. This means that everyone at North turning 18 between now and April has a chance to let their voice be heard through their vote. Some people who are already registered can and should vote next month in the general elections. No matter whom you want to elect to office, there are multiple steps you must take in order to be able to vote in the first place.
So, why vote?
It’s very common to hear from others that an individual’s vote doesn’t matter in the long run- that it’s the majority that ends up winning no matter what. Well, highly unexpected results from the past few elections prove these people wrong. If everyone in the world believes that their vote doesn’t matter, then who’s going to end up going to the polls? History shows that no matter what the polls say, nobody really knows who’s going to win or lose. Some local elections are won by just a handful of people, so it’s necessary to let your voice be heard.
How do I register to vote?
In order to vote in the April primaries, you must register to vote, and if you’re going to be out of town, it’s important to fill out an absentee ballot as well.
Registering to vote can be done online or through mail, and it’s important that you’re aware of deadlines. You can also register when you get your license at 18. The registration for this November’s election has already passed, but it’s never too late to start planning for future elections.
In order to register, you must be 18 or older the day you fill out your forms, and you must register to vote in the state that you live in. While there is no set date yet for deadlines to register for the primaries, it will probably be about a month before the actual election, so don’t make this your homework and wait until the morning of Election Day to register.
After you register, if you know that you’ll be out of town on Election Day, you can fill out an absentee ballot before you go. You only need to register once as long as you keep voting in Pennsylvania, but you must fill out a new absentee ballot each time you use one.
Where do I go to vote?
There are many places for people to vote, and information about where to go differs for everyone. Usually, it’s the school or public place nearest to your home, so you might have to go back to elementary school for a bit on Election Day.
Whom do I vote for?
Well, only you can decide whom you’re going to vote for, and it’s always good to do background research on each of the candidates before making your decision.
The first step is figuring out which candidates you can actually vote for on a local and state level by looking up your voting district. Once you know whom you can vote for, don’t just listen to others’ opinions. Go on the candidates’ websites and see what they’ve been doing for this community: which candidates seem to be addressing your concerns about this state and country?
From there, try and learn more about their backgrounds and experiences, and make sure that every decision you make is educated, and most importantly, your own.
However, the primary elections this coming April will be held as a closed primary. This means that in the state of Pennsylvania, you must vote for the candidates running under the party that you’re voting for. This means that a registered Democrat can’t vote for Brian Fitzpatrick and a registered Republican can’t vote for Joe Biden. The same goes for Independents and other parties.
Nonetheless, the November general elections allow you to vote for whomever you choose, and it’s important to make educated and independent choices.
Hopefully, all of this information and advice will lead you to go out and vote during the upcoming primaries and every election afterwards. For more information regarding voting services and registration, some helpful websites are the Pennsylvania DMV, PA voter services, and the sites for many state legislators.