Get Out and Vote
By Lenice C. Emanuel, MLA
Executive Director
Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is Power is a bi-weekly blog by the Alabama Institute for Social Justice offering information, stories, and thoughts to inspire, educate, and empower.
Your right to get out and vote has never been one to be taken lightly. But now, as we stand as a country seemingly divided by racial and class lines, making sure you cast your vote at the ballot box is more important than ever. The objective of the Alabama Institute for Social Justice (AISJ) is to create a state where economic, political, and social equity exist for everyone. One of the most practical ways to take a stand against social injustice is by exercising the right to vote.
 
Of course, we understand that making sure you are registered and in possession of the appropriate pieces of identification can be daunting, but consider this: it is even more unsettling having to place your trust, and ultimately your life and livelihood, in the hands of someone who is far removed from understanding the needs of your community. Our goal is to elect political leaders who have integrity, are principled, and have a heart for all Alabamians and their well-being, particularly those who are victims of cyclical and systemic disadvantage.
 
But remember, if you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice in who is chosen.
 
We at AISJ want to help you be prepared to cast your vote in the next election on December 12th . Following these five steps will help make sure you are ready to show up and use your voice. 

1) Know the location of your polling place.
Finding your polling place is easy. Visit https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/ , click on the link for your state, and enter the information required. The system will tell you exactly where you need to go to vote. If you have moved in the last year, chances are you will not vote at the same location you did the previous year. 


2) Have the appropriate identification.

Most polling places require that you have a government-issued ID to cast your vote. To be sure, though, call your polling place in advance to ask about forms of ID that are accepted. Also, pay attention to whether your ID is current and not expired. 
 
3) Check the opening and closing times at your polling place.

Using the link provided above, you can also find the opening and closing times of your specific polling place, in addition to its location. Most polling places open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. Some provide an earlier opening and later closing time. It is always best to “know before you go.”
 
4) Be patient and prepared.

Depending on the hour at which you choose to vote, the lines can be long. Do not let that keep you from voting. If you can, plan your voting time at a point in your day when you are not likely to be forced to leave the polling place because of time constraints. If you plan to vote before work, during your lunch hour, or after work, be aware of travel times to and from your workplace. Also, be mindful of the weather. Many polling place lines start outside of the building, so you may need an umbrella, rain boots, coat, or the option to shed layers. If you have to wait, you will want to be able to do so comfortably. 
 
5) Don’t be discouraged.

As much as we would like to think that our single vote will make the most significant difference, that is not always the case. If the upcoming December 12th election does not turn out exactly as you had hoped, don’t be discouraged. Do not let that prevent you from showing up to vote in the next election, and the next.
Making the decision to vote should not be a matter of convenience, but instead a commitment to honoring those who fought tirelessly to gain access to voting rights. It also indicates that you care about your community, state, and nation. Honor your commitment to those who came before you and those who will come after you. Get out and vote!  

To learn more about AISJ, visit us online at www.ALisj.org