Planning to vote? Read this first

Planning to take on your civic responsibility and vote this year? Good choice. But where should you go? What if something goes wrong at the polling booth? What the heck is Referendum O? And did you manage to get your new registration in on time? Answers to all these questions — and more — can be found in this handy how-to guide on making your voice heard:

Step one: Before you head to the polls, print a sample ballot to take with you, using JustVoteColorado.org’s “Build Your Ballot” utility. This will drastically reduce the amount of time you spend in the polling booth pouring over the longest ballot in the country, making life better for you and those waiting in line behind you.

As you fill out your sample ballot, should you have any questions about the long list of referendums and initiatives, you can learn about them from the official, government-approved Blue Book.

Now that you’ve printed out your sample ballot, you’ve got to figure out where to take it. I strongly recommend early voting, just in case you have some sort of personal emergency on election day or, you know, have to pick up the dry cleaning or something. Despite a plethora of election-related scandals, the secretary of state’s office has put together a comprehensive database on early-vote locations. Find your early-vote location by clicking here.

Finally, when you get to the polls, make sure you have a government-issued photo ID with you; a Colorado driver’s license or passport will work. If you run into any trouble, previously mentioned JustVoteColorado.org has set up a hot line to help you out. Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, and a team of experts will make everything all good. Program that number into your cell phone right now, just in case: 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Finally, if you’re a complete Luddite and insist on voting on Election Day, Google has compiled a list of all the polling places in America and can show you on Google Maps how to get there from your home. But seriously, vote early instead. All the cool kids are doing it.

To Review:

1. Build your ballot at JustVoteColorado.org.

2. Find your early-vote location or Election Day polling place on the Secretary of State’s Web site.

3. Bring your ID and add 1-866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683) to your cell phone in case you have any trouble at the polls.

And that’s it! Congratulations on doing your part to make America a better place.

Worried about whether you registered to vote in time? Check your status on the Secretary of State’s Web site, and if you still have any questions, contact your local county clerk and recorder. Heard about the “check box” controversyand want to make sure you’re kosher? New Era Colorado, whose board I serve on, has put together “a searchable list of over 22,000 voters who have a voter registration status as ‘incomplete.”

Have another source you prefer? Add it in the comments!

Colorado Independent’s blogumnist (blogger-columnist) Jeff Bridges has worked in Democratic politics for the last 10 years, serving as communications director for two congressional races in Colorado and two governors races in the Deep South. Bridges also worked as a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C., with a focus on military and small-business issues.

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Jeff Bridges

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