If you thought voting was confusing any other time than right now, coronavirus has most certainly beaten that standard by a long shot. With schools shutting downpolling locations changing last minute due to vulnerable population concerns, and the number of cases increasing daily, registered voters might be feeling panicked and wondering if you should even go out to vote.

We’re here to tell you: Keep calm and VOTE ON!

And here’s how to do it in the most informed way possible.

FIRST – let’s talk about absentee voting. Are you a student who recently had to leave the area you vote in because your school closed without warning? Are you wary of voting in-person due to serious health concerns? Well, we’ve got good news: you still have enough time to vote absentee. The application for absentee voting must be received by noon on March 14 and all ballots most by postmarked by Monday, March 16. More details can be found here.

SECOND – If you’re not interested in absentee voting but want to know another alternative, you have the option of early in-person voting. You can cast a ballot at your County Board of Elections on these dates and times:

  • Friday March 13: 8AM-7PM
  • Saturday March 14: 8AM-4PM
  • Sunday March 15: 1PM-5PM
  • Monday March 16: 8AM-2PM

THIRD - You could take the standard route and vote on Election Day, March 17, from 6:30am – 7:30pm.

Here is what you need to do before, during, and after. Read on!

Before the big day:

  1. Make sure you’re still registered.

With the voter purging this last year – and nearly 20% getting wrongfully purged, you may want to check to see if you’re still a registered voter. You are able to check on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website here.

  1. Find out your polling information and district information – check multiple times since polling locations are being changed due to the outbreak.

Fortunately, the site also gives you information on your voting precinct and polling location. Furthermore, it will let you know what your U.S. Congressional District, Senate District, and State Rep. District is. There are multiple things to do with this information, read on to find out.

  1. Plan your day accordingly.

With your polling location information on hand, it is imperative to jot down exactly where you can go to vote the day of – and make sure to plan accordingly. Allow yourself enough buffer time in case there is a long line you have trouble finding parking, or any other sort of obstacle that may arise (and given the unpredictability of the times we’re in, there might be extra-long lines).

  1. Figure out who is running and what their policies are.

Not even going to lie – like so many others, I’ve been guilty of showing up to the polls ready to vote for who I believed the next POTUS should be – and so often, I’ve neglected to really understand who I was putting into my statehouse. After finally seeing the light and realizing just how important the statehouse is when it comes to my rights, I’m making sure to do my homework on all those who are running – and you should too!

On March 17th, 2020:

  1. Make sure you have everything you need to meet the ID requirements to vote before leaving the house.

According to the Secretary of State website, Ohio law requires that every voter, upon appearing at the polling place to vote, must announce his or her full name, current address and proof of identity. All acceptable forms of ID can be found here.

  1. Get to your polling location and VOTE!

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Just don’t forget to grab an “I voted” sticker on your way out! One caveat – do yourself and fellow Ohioans a favor and wash your hands before coming into your polling location and immediately after voting.

After you vote – whether absentee or in-person and (hopefully) post-Coronavirus:

Pretty soon after the primaries, each party will put forward their candidates and gear up for November 3, 2020 – Election Day. Sure, you have the option of doing everything listed in this article for that day and be on your merry way… or you can do more.

The Ohio registration deadline for the Nov. 2020 Election is October 5, 2020.

That’s over half a year to make sure that everyone you know is registered to vote – and it’s more than enough to even get people you don’t even know signed up. You can campaign and educate others – not only on who is running for president, but you can also let people know about those who are running for seats to represent Ohio in Congress or in the Ohio Statehouse itself. If no candidate gets you super excited to knock on doors, perhaps there’s a ballot initiative that may excite you enough to do so.

Regardless, what’s imperative to note here is that there is so much more that goes into just showing up and voting. Preparation is key – whether that’s making sure you have everything you need to vote or educating yourself on the people who are fighting for your vote.

But, more importantly, making your voice – and ensuring other voices are also – heard is something anybody can do.

Including you.

Remember you and they are the difference and the voice of things yet to come.