When, Where and How to Vote in the Midterm Elections on Tuesday
On Tuesday, voters across the country will choose their next leaders as they cast their ballots in the midterm elections, some of the most important non-presidential races in the U.S.
Voter turnout for the midterms is expected to be higher than ever, especially among young people, and Democrats are holding out hope that they will be able to take back Congress in order to impede President Donald Trump‘s agenda.
According to David Wasserman, U.S. House Editor for the Cook Political Report, chances are strong that the House will swing left come Tuesday, while the Senate will remain red. Wasserman also adds that the two chambers of Congress are like “Mars and Venus” because “the House will be decided by suburbs where Republicans are on defense,” while the Senate is all about “rural states where Democrats are on defense,” such as Missouri, West Virginia and Montana.
But of course, before the results can be counted, voters will need to actually head to the polls on Tuesday.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to vote in the midterm elections.
Where do I find my polling place?
If you’re not sure where to vote, don’t panic!
Simply visit Vote.org’s Polling Place Locator, and enter the address where you live and are registered to vote.
In a matter of seconds, the site will not only let you know where your polling place is, but it will also tell you the hours your polling place will be open on Tuesday.
What happens if I’m registered to vote, just not at the address where I live?
If you’re eligible to vote, most states will let you fill out a provisional ballot.
Provisional ballots are filled out the same way as regular ballots, and are kept separate from regular ballots until it’s determined that the voter is actually eligible to vote or not.
If you have any questions, check in with your state or local election office.
What happens if I’m not registered to vote?
While some states, like California and Vermont, allow for same-day registration, many will not allow you to cast a vote if you missed the registration deadline.
When can I actually vote?
While the hours that polling places are open can vary slightly, polls are usually open between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., and close between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
As long as you’re in line by the time the polls close, you will be allowed to vote, so stay in line.
The polls tend to be busiest during blocks of time when people are not generally working (such as during morning rush hour, lunchtime, and the evening), so if you have a flexible schedule, avoid longer lines by voting during off-hours.
For more information about the exact hours of your specific polling place, visit Vote.org.
What do I need to bring with me to vote?
Again, this varies from state to state.
While you can go empty-handed in some states, a total of 34 states require voters to show a form of identification in order to cast their votes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Some of those states allow you to vote with any form of identification, while some require you to have a photo ID.
If you’ve never voted before, or are unsure what’s required for your state, you can always contact your state or local election office to make sure you’re fully prepared.
You can also consult PEOPLE’s Simple Guide to Knowing Your Voting Rights.
How will I know where to go once I arrive at my polling station?
Even if this is your first time voting at your polling station, there should be ample signs — and poll workers — to direct you to exactly where you need to go.
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After walking inside the building, you’ll check in with a poll worker, who will direct you to the right place to receive your ballot. There, you will sign a list to confirm that you visited the poll to cast your vote.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! That’s what poll workers are there for.
What happens if I’m not on the list?
A polling worker will help you understand what’s going on and let you know what your next steps are.
If it turns out you’re at the wrong polling place, they’ll help you figure out where you need to go, and if you’re eligible to vote, most states will allow you to fill out a provisional ballot.
I have my ballot — what do I do now?
After receiving your ballot, you’ll be directed to a private location by your poll worker to fill it out. Then, once you’re done, simply return it to the poll worker.
Should you make a mistake on your ballot, not to worry! Just request a fresh ballot.
Remember, if you have any questions, just ask a poll worker.
How do I send a mail-in ballot?
Again, this varies from state to state.
Most states stipulate that all mail-in ballots have to be postmarked by Election Day, but some states require that the ballot be sent earlier.
However, if you haven’t already requested and received your ballot, you won’t be eligible to vote by this method.
You can check your state’s requirements at Vote.org.
How do I find out about what’s on my ballot?
While some candidates and issues are easier than others to research online, you should be able to find all the information you need with the help of a variety of nonpartisan groups, like Ballotpedia, BallotReady, and VoteUSA.
Simply type in your address and you’ll be taken to a page that explains who the candidates are for each race and what values and platforms they stand for — and against.
The websites will also have information about different proposals that are being voted on in each state.