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Do you remember how exciting it was the first time you were able to vote?

I turned 18 the year of a presidential election. I researched the candidates and eagerly cast my vote for the one who most closely matched my views. I haven’t missed an election since. This year’s election has me flummoxed though. Neither major-party candidate really represents my views. It would be easy to throw in the towel and sit this one out. Despite my reluctance, I will cast my vote in November and I think you should too!

Voting is a right that most of us take for granted, but in our country, the right to vote was not always guaranteed for all people.

“My great-grandmother was a suffragette,” said Julie Hussey, president of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina. “I will vote. She fought for my right!”

Women were granted the right to vote in 1920, after a struggle that lasted for decades. For African-Americans, the struggle lasted even longer. We asked the League of Women Voters for some common obstacles people cite when it comes to voting and some ways to overcome those obstacles.

No candidate represents all of my views

Hussey recommends taking the time to write down the issues that are important to you.

“Think about how the issues affect you personally, rather than voting only by party,” Hussey said. “If you have children in the arts, you might be concerned about arts in the community. If your parents are elderly, senior care may be your biggest concern.”

She also reminds voters to think beyond the two major parties.

“There are multiple people running, not just two candidates,” she said.

I don’t have enough information
about the candidate or issues

“Read as much as you can,” said Kathy Ellis, co-president of the Spartanburg County League of Women Voters. “Read editorials from both sides; go to the websites of the candidates and try to get the perspectives of all parties.”

Ellis said it’s best to avoid making decisions based on television and radio sound bites. Instead, really research what candidates have to say. Additional voter information can be found at www.scvotes.org.

“A lot can be gained from watching a well-moderated debate,” she said.

I’m really busy! 

Plan ahead to ensure you have everything you need before arriving at your polling place, Hussey said. Make sure you know where to vote, and bring your driver’s license or South Carolina identification card. If you can’t make it on the day of the election, you may vote absentee. Absentee voting may be done in person or through the mail for multiple reasons including vacation, business travel and emergencies. To vote by mail, request an absentee ballot application online at www.scvotes.org or call your county voter registration office.

The election doesn’t really
affect my everyday life

Actually, referendums and local races have a huge effect on communities.

“Don’t be so discouraged on a national level that you ignore where you live,” Ellis said. “This year’s election will have some important referendums and local races.”

Find out more

To vote absentee or find out more information, visit the following websites:

  • Greenville County: www.greenvillecounty.org/voter_registration
  • Spartanburg County: http://bit.ly/2aBfjid
  • Pickens County: www.pickenselections.org/voter-registration

Find more at www.upstateparent.com

Looking for more things relevant to moms? Things to do with kids in Greenville-Spartanburg? Find more at www.upstateparent.com.

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