We are less than a month away from the start of the 2016 presidential primary and caucus season. On February 1, the Iowa caucuses will kick off the 2016 election cycle. A little over a week later, the New Hampshire primaries will follow. The process goes on through spring as both parties choose a presidential ticket for the 2016 election.
As a U.S. citizen, your vote is not only something politicians compete for, but your constitutional right. And exercising that right is as American as the stars and stripes. Before election year officially takes off, USAGov wants to help you get ready with these steps for participating in your state’s primaries or caucuses:
- Mark the calendar. Primaries and caucuses take place from February to mid-June leading up to the November 8 election. Find out when your state’s will be and make sure you don’t miss them.
- Register to vote. If you’re not already a registered voter, look up your state on Vote.USA.gov to begin the process. States have different deadlines, so check with your state’s election office to see how soon before its primaries or caucuses you have to register.
- Research candidates. Debates, town halls, speeches and campaign events--election year is many things, but boring is not one of them. Study the issues, learn how to research candidates, and find out what to look for before, during, and after a debate.
- Make a plan. It may sound obvious, but having a voting plan is one of the most important things you can do after registering. Work, school, picking up the kids and grocery shopping can make any day hectic. Making a plan to get to your polling station is key. Are you driving? Taking the bus? If you know you won't be able to make it, you may be able to vote absentee ahead of time. Active military members can also vote absentee and make their voices heard at the polls. Plan ahead and make sure you get your vote in on time.
- Spread the word. Friends, family and acquaintances often talk politics, but sometimes don’t make it to the ballot box. Make sure those around are as prepared as you. If they haven’t registered, send them to Vote.USA.gov to register. Be the informed one in your group.
Stay up-to-date with VoteUSA, USAGov’s yearlong effort to help Americans become more informed and involved in the 2016 election. VoteUSA will also host regular Facebook Q&A sessions and Twitter events, as well as virtual office hours to answer your questions live. Join the conversation using #VoteUSA or by following us on Facebook and Twitter.