Hopefully, most of us are preparing to cast our votes in the upcoming presidential election which in many states is just a few weeks away–as early as September 4th. Not all states have the same regulations and procedures with regards to voting. Voting is a right that we as African Americans should never take for granted because it gives us political power.

Are you ready to vote so that it counts?

Make sure your registration is up to date

Check that you are registered to vote at the address where you currently reside. Perhaps you’ve moved or have changed your name in recent years and forgot to contact your Board of Elections or Secretary of State’s Office.

If you go to Vote.org, Rock the Vote, I Am A Voter, or the U.S. Vote Foundation, all nonprofit/nonpartisan sites, you can obtain all you need to know about voting rights, registration and the voting process itself.

Register to vote!

If you’ve never registered to vote or your registration is outdated, then what are you waiting for? Rock your vote and let your voice be heard! Hop to it and register, you still have time! September 22 is National Voter Registration Day, when millions of folks register to vote. If you visit the site Vote.org, you can register to vote and it will take all of just two minutes! Know some folks who are still unregistered to vote? Urge those you know to register–get on the phone, email, or even use social media to get the job done!

A word to the wise for those who bellyache about the voting process. If we view government as failing to operate well for us, ejecting ourselves from civic engagement offers no solution. Being despondent when it comes to voting is also self-sabotage for our community!

Plot out your voting plan!

There are countless registered voters who do not vote because they don’t know where to go to do so or when. Election day is November 3, 2020 however, voting hours may vary depending on where you live. Make sure you know where to go to cast your vote. Vote.org offers a chart that specifies the locations of polling places by state. Some places will allow you to vote in person before Election Day at a main municipal government building, check with your town as to when and where.

If you prefer to vote by mail some states will mail you a ballot automatically, either because they conduct their elections by mail, or because they have made special provisions to do so as a result of the pandemic. In other states you have to request one – and sometimes you need to provide a specific excuse for wanting to avoid in-person voting. If you cast your ballot via mail, you may need to pay postage, so make sure you place the right amount of postage on the envelope. Another mailing tip, try sending your ballot back as early as possible. The U.S. Postal Service does recommend requesting ballots at least 15 days in advance and mailing them at least a week before the election. If you do not receive your ballot in a timely manner, call your Board of Elections or municipal clerk asap to learn your options.

If you are worried about mailing in your ballot and perhaps someone tampering with it while en route, fret no more! There is no evidence that mail ballots increase electoral fraud. Several anti-fraud protections are built into the process. Those who abuse mail ballots can be charged with election fraud and face fines or prison time.

Remind yourself to vote

Being 50-plus can also mean that your memory just ain’t what it used to be! Why not set a reminder in place that will alert you as to when you should register, request a mail-in ballot, vote early, mail your ballot, and for the Election Day itself.

Don’t doubt your vote

Never feel your vote won’t count! Don’t listen to those naysayers who go around scaring folks into believing that elections are rigged and that voter fraud is rampant. Exercise your sacred privilege as a citizen and vote! Just throwing up your hands and refusing to participate in the voting process gives your power to someone else.