Voting 101: What You Need to Know

We break down the process to make it simple

Voting.  It seems so simple.

Pick a candidate, walk into a voting booth and cast your ballot.

“I think it’s pretty straightforward” is what one potential voter answered when asked if they understood how to vote.

Zach Stalberg, president of the Committee of Seventy, an organization which provides volunteers to all the polling locations in the five-county region, thinks otherwise.  “It’s probably going to be a mess at the polls,” Stalberg said.

He adds, “It’s an intimidating process.  Everyone is afraid of making a mistake.”

That statement is especially true for first-time voters.  If you fall into that category, we have a Voting 101 guide for you.

Let’s start with what to wear to the polls.  If you show up at the polling place wearing a campaign button or t-shirt supporting a candidate, you could be sent home for breaking electioneering rules.

“In some of the suburban counties, they say they’re going to be taking a harder view of this,” said Stalberg.  He suggests to “bring a coat, and cover up your button and keep your feeling buttoned down.”

Okay, so you’re ready to head to your polling place, but how do you know where to go?  Visit or call 215.557.3600 to find out.

Once you get to the polls, you’ll need to show one form of identification.  Your options range from a driver’s license to an utility bill.

You may have to wait in line.  One voter estimated it would take about 10 minutes to vote, but Stalberg thinks differently.

“I think we’ll get exceptional turnout because of the nature of this election and what’s going on in the country at large. It can be a long wait,” said Stalberg.

He suggests getting to the polls during non-peak hours (10 am – 3pm).  If that’s not possible, you may want to bring something to read.

As for what type of ballot you will be submitting, it will most likely be electronic.  The exact format, according to Stalberg, “varies from county to county.”

The most important thing is to make sure and hit the vote button so your selections register.

If you have any problems in the voting booth just ask any polling place volunteer for help – as long as that person isn’t your boss or union leader.

Also, neither New Jersey nor Pennsylvania has early voting, but if you’re above 65 years old or disabled, you can apply for an alternative ballot. This is much like an absentee ballot.

Finally, if you have any problems at the polls, you can call 866.OUR.VOTE (866.687.8683).


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