By Erica Cirino September 29, 2016

Election Day is fast approaching, and that means it’s time for you to get ready to vote. That’s right, you need to prepare. While pretty simple, the act of voting is a little more complex than simply showing up to a poll and casting a ballot.

And failing to prepare can have major consequences, making it more difficult or impossible for you to cast a vote on Election Day. And trust me, you don’t want that to happen, especially in such a decisive election year.

If you’ve never before participated in an election you may be wondering exactly how to prepare. There are four things you need to do before Election Day:

1.Register to vote

Many college students first register to vote when they receive their driver’s license or through their high school. If you can’t remember whether or not you’re registered, the first step is to check. This is easily done online through your state’s voter registration lookup database. Just search the web for “voter registration lookup and [your state].”

If the online database says you’re registered, double-check that your personal information is up-to-date. If it’s not, you’ll need to amend it by resubmitting your voter registration information. And if you’re not yet registered, you’ll have to do so!

Thankfully, we’ve made it super easy for you. Just take a trip over to and get started right now. It only takes a few minutes. What are you waiting for?

2. Know your candidates, know your issues

One of the most important things to do before Election Day is to understand the candidates you have to choose from. You also need to understand where the candidates stand on political issues, especially those that matter most to you (like climate change and the environment!).

A great website to learn more about this year’s presidential candidates is The website is up to date on the latest political information and includes in-depth descriptions of each candidate. What’s more, the website features a detailed quiz that can help you see which of your personal beliefs—including those about climate change and the environment—align with those of the presidential candidates.

3. Find your polling place

Once you’re registered to vote, you can find out where you should vote by checking your voter registration form. It’s important to check because polling locations can change. You can also check your polling place by visiting You also need to check what time the poll opens and closes.

If you know you won’t be able to make it to the polls on Election Day, call your county board of elections to find out how you can vote early or cast an absentee ballot.

4. What to bring with you

Depending on which state you live in, you may need to show identification at your polling place. You can check with your county or state board of elections. To be safe, bring your driver’s license or another photo ID such as a passport. In some states, you may be able to bring a current utility bill, paycheck or other document that includes your name and street address.