The election is just days away, and we have over 100 Frederick students who are able to vote in an election for the first time this year. Most teens don’t know much about voting–maybe that’s why they are the most unlikely of all age groups to cast their ballot. But it’s actually very easy here in Colorado–registering to vote only takes about ten minutes by just filling out a form with your personal information . This little guide will give you links and different points on how to cast your ballot quickly and efficiently.
How to Register:
To start this process, you need to get registered to vote by doing one of two things: Either goto a nearby post office with all your essential information (Social Security Information or other proper identification, like a driver’s license or ID card) or go to this website to register online. This whole online process takes about ten minutes and you get an email verification that says you completed your work detailing that you’ll be confirmed within 72 hours. As for in-person registration, you’ll get verbal confirmation that you’re all good and most likely receive an email or text message within a few days saying you’re registered.
Voting by Mail:
Once you’re registered to vote, you’ll be automatically registered to receive a ballot in the mail (although you must register before October 26 to get one for this election). You’ll also get the blue book in the mail, which is a booklet put out each year by the Colorado General Assembly and has all the unbiased information about Colorado ballot issues. If you don’t know your Amendment 76 from your Proposition EE, it has a breakdown on what each measure would do, the major arguments for and against the measure, and how much the measure would impact the state economy. The online site also has the ratings for all the judges on your ballot (because we vote for judges! Who knew?).
If you are looking for information on political candidates from the president to mayor, major newspapers like The Denver Post have very generalized and summarized views on issues of the candidates to help you select who you’re voting for. You can also contact the League of Women Voters, an associated dedicated to voter freedoms, for information about the candidates.
Fill out your selections for whoever on whatever election, and it is worth noting that you can JUST fill out the sections you want and skip others if you so wish. Just make sure your mark is clear and you’re good to go. To submit your ballot, you can either just put a couple of stamps and mail it before Halloween, or you can go to a verified voter box where you can put your ballot (your ballot will come with a list of official drop sites).
Voting in Person:
If you’re going to vote in person, there are a couple of things you need to expect when at the polling place. First off, there are going to be lines–LONG lines–if you wait until Election Day, as these places need to enforce social distancing and make sure senior citizens don’t get sick when going out to cast their ballot. This is why early voting, which is held in certain locations on certain days throughout October, is a great idea, as it cuts down on the Election Day scamble. Some different polling places near Frederick High are the Carbon Valley Recreation Center, Erie Recreation Center, Fort Lupton Recreation Center, and Windsor Recreation Center. You can also go here for additional locations or to see where early voting is available.
You’ll need to be wearing a mask while at these locations, and bringing a pair of gloves would be a safe idea to prevent getting sick. When you pass the line, you’re going to have to show your ID to the poll worker, then you will be put into a booth with a voting machine behind a curtain for confidentiality (you don’t want the person near you to see who you’re voting for).
One other thing to mention: it is your right as an American citizen over the age of 18 to cast your ballot. Only polling officials can turn you away for issues with your identification–in fact, they won’t even turn you away if you aren’t registered, because in Colorado, you can register at a polling place on Election Day (if you have your identification). So don’t let anyone intimidate you or say your vote doesn’t matter. Additionally, you also can’t wear clothing that promotes who you are voting for because it can be seen as intimidation and may cause conflicts. So keep your Trump-Pence shirts and Biden-Harris hats at home because wearing these items ARE a valid excuse for a polling official to turn you away.
So you’ve voted. Now what? First, display your “I Voted” sticker proudly and share your accomplishment on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook if you want to show your grandparents. Just make sure not to take any photos of your actual ballot–while it’s a myth that your vote won’t count if you take a photo of it, taking a photo of any of the barcodes on your ballot could lead to your ballot being invalidated. And NEVER take a photo inside a polling place–that actually does break the law.
You can keep track of your ballot with the website Ballotrax. All you have to do to track it is enter your first and last name, zip code, date of birth, and then it will tell you if your ballot has been counted. If your ballot has been rejected, you can contact your county commissioner and ask why, and if you vote early, you may be allowed to vote in a different manner in order for it to count.
Finally, you can sit back, watch the vote tallies come in, and try to remember how you voted. While who wins the presidency will be national news, stick to local news broadcasts and papers (like the Frederick Scout) for information about local candidates and measures. Keep in mind that with more mail-in ballots than ever this year, the winner of some contests may not be clear for a few days, so stay patient. It’s also worth noting that the FBI has warned that violence could potentially erupt this year if the winner wins by a really small margin, so remember that even if your candidate or measure doesn’t win, there will be other elections–violence and anger will only lead to terrible consequences.
Now go out, cast your ballot, and tell them your high school newspaper sent you!