Living United

By Jessica Carreras

November 3, 2017

Tips for being an educated, empowered voter

Vote: Voter rights header image

Lacy Dawson of advocacy coalition Michigan Voice has a message for eligible voters: “It’s not as difficult to vote as you think it is.” 

Dawson and panelists from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, ACLU of Michigan and Arab American Civil Rights League took part in a Voter Rights Forum Oct. 23. The event was co-hosted by United Way for Southeastern Michigan and the League of Women Voters of Dearborn/Dearborn Heights. 

Panelists encouraged the 200 attendees to ask questions and learn their rights as voters. 

“We have a right to make sure that our voices are heard,” Lacy added.

The panelists shared tips for voters leading up to the Nov. 7 election. 

Educate yourself

Do you know if your city has an election Nov. 7? How about what’s on your ballot? Educate yourself! Check your voter registration status, find your polling location and see your sample ballot at Michigan.gov/vote. Find information about candidates and issues at Vote411.org. 

Get voting help if you need it 

Did you know that voters who don’t speak English can bring a translator into the voting booth with them? Know your rights, and request accommodations to vote—like voting absentee, or requesting assistance if you’re disabled. Find available resources through the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. 

Report voter suppression 

If you have an issue while trying to vote, talk to a polling inspector or call your city clerk. But if you witness or experience voter intimidation or discrimination, report it. Visit the Michigan Department of Civil Rights website to find out how to report voter suppression.

Be a voter advocate 

Once you’re educated about voter rights, take actions to protect them. Sign up to be a poll worker, or volunteer at local organization like the League of Women Voters or the Arab American Civil Rights League. You can also sign up for advocacy alerts from United Way to stay informed about upcoming policy initiatives that affect voter rights. 

Vote! 

There are lots of ways to make a difference in your community, but one is most important: Vote every year, in every election. While national elections are important, local elections effect things like your city services, taxes and local officials.  

“A vote is power, and it impacts you where you live, work and play,” said Michigan Department of Civil Rights Community Liaison Charles Schoder. “If you can’t vote, you’re not part of the process.” 

Polls are open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Nov. 7. If you have an election, get out and vote. 

Are you voting Nov. 7? Pledge to vote and we’ll send you a reminder before election day!