#WYNTKA: Protecting Your Right to Vote

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With more than 45 million 18-29 year olds eligible to vote this year, young people are poised to have a huge impact on the 2012 Elections. But with many states limiting early voting, implementing bizarre voter ID laws and making other changes, it might be harder for you to vote.

These laws can get confusing, but never fear – if you follow the simple steps in our foolproof guide, no one can stop you from flexing your political power. Now let us train you in the art of democratic self-defense.

+ Know the voter ID laws.

I know, I know, in 2012 everyone has an ID, right? So what’s the big deal if they ask you to bring one to vote? It wouldn’t be a big deal if the laws were uniform across our country, but they’re not. Not even close. If you don’t drive, your best defense is to get a non-driver’s personal ID card. You can get one through your state’s DMV. Four years ago a bunch of elderly nuns in Indiana couldn’t vote in their own convent because they didn’t have ID — and some of their sisters were poll workers! Good Lord. For most, government-issued IDs can cost money, which some argue is a new-fangled poll tax. Today, for example, you pay $26 for an ID valid for 6 years in California, only $10 for four years in New Mexico, and a whopping $44.50 (cash or check only) for 8 years in Oregon. And in the wackiest example of them all, in Texas it’s cool to vote with a handgun license but not with a school-issue student ID, so make time for the DMV. Don’t wait! Check the voter ID laws in your state now, and make sure you have what you need to get to the polls.

+ Check voter registration deadlines.

You can’t vote if you’re not registered. Every state has different registration deadlines for voting, and many even have different voter registration forms. There are a ton of cool tools to get you registered, lots of independent groups and even political campaigns that want to help. But the best and safest thing you can do — particularly because registration drives by are being scaled back because of new laws in several states — is check out when the deadline to register in your state is and to make sure you get registered on time. Rock the Vote’s Election Land site makes it super easy.

+ Are you a college student? Find Out Where to Register!

Generally, if you can’t pull the lever in your home state’s voting booth, your safest bet as a college student is registering to vote where you’re living (or going to school). If you’ve already registered in your home state, or prefer to not deal with tricky permanent address issues, you can always get an absentee ballot (your voting booth away from home). TurboVote makes the whole process super simple. In between classes, in your PJs, waiting for a movie to download premiere — whatevs. So, no excuses. Vote like a champ.

+ Know when you need to show up and vote!

In 35 states you can vote using “convenience” options like no-excuse absentee voting, mail-in voting, in-person early voting and more. But in the 15 states where that’s not an option, voting is Tuesday-or-bust. You literally have to make it to the polls during the hours they are open and if you don’t — who cares if you work two jobs, are a single parent or have bizarre class hours for school — too bad. This year Florida and Ohio both rolled back early voting laws. So you don’t miss the Tuesday Election Day, make sure to check the early voting rules in your state and make a plan to get to the polls if you need to. And ask every elected official you can if they know why we vote on Tuesday, and to move Election Day to the weekend.

You have the power to decide the outcome of the 2012 Election. Register to vote with our super easy registration tool. So, no excuses. Vote like a champ.

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