First-time voters, here’s what you need to know:

Laila Samphilipo, Editor-in-Chief of The Prowler

First-time voters are some of the most important Americans to show up on Election Day due to their ability to enact change in polls.

Learning about the voting process, however, can seem daunting and overwhelming for many people. The following guide aims to simplify the five essential steps you need to take in order to feel prepared for upcoming elections and successfully vote. 

Step 1: Register to vote

Voter registration is unique to individual states and territories in America, meaning that it is not federally managed. In PA, residents may register online, by mail, in person at their county voter registration office or at certain government agencies like PennDOT. 

In 2019, many people opt to utilize the online form to register to vote. Under this method, your local county elections office will review the application after submission. Then, when your registration is complete, you will receive your voter registration card in the mail. 

Step 2: Research candidates and political parties

Now that voting registration is complete, using this privilege to make knowledgeable decisions about who you support is vital. Being informed allows you to focus on selecting candidates who have platforms that relate to your values, rather than rely on their media image or propaganda. Be aware of biased news outlets that may push certain agendas and focus on the facts. 

If a candidate is an incumbent in the Senate or House of Representatives, allows you to research their voting records. Another online resource,, which is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by politicians in ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. 

Take advantage of the plethora of resources to gain political knowledge and understand what qualities and beliefs you want in a candidate. 

Step 3: Check state regulations

Federal elections are administered by state and local governments. However, the specifics of how these elections are conducted vary between states. 

In PA, you must bring a valid photo or non-photo ID in order to be permitted to vote. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. According to the website Votes PA, the busiest times of day to vote are in the morning and evening. For your convenience, it is suggested to try to vote at less busy times. 

Step 4: Find your polling location

Being eligible to vote can only take you so far when you don’t know where to actually cast your ballot. 

Based on a voter’s address, state election offices assign a polling location. If you are unsure about your assigned location, use Get to the Polls online or contact your election office. 

Step 5: Vote

Election Day in America is the Tuesday after the first Monday in Nov. This year it is on Nov. 5, 2019, although state and local elections can occur other times throughout the course of the year. 

In regard to federal elections, the next federal election day is Nov. 3, 2020, where American citizens will note for the president and members of Congress.