Your vote might determine the future of LGBT equality

Tomorrow, November 6, is Election Day. It is the day when millions of Americans will cast their ballots. Unless you have voted early, or sent in your absentee ballot, we need you to vote.

Why is this important?

For months, GLAAD has been working with statewide advocates to secure marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, as well as to keep marriage discrimination out of the Minnesota constitution. We’ve stressed the marriage equality issue in these states pretty heavily, but it’s about much more than that.

Our elected officials determine the future of LGBT equality for years to come, whether it is a local non-discrimination ordinance, a police force that understands the lives of LGBT people, statewide hate crime legislation, or the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

While you have probably heard the most about the presidential candidates, and their possible directions for LGBT Americans, it’s just as important to elect fair-minded state and local leaders. Judges, sheriffs, and even library board members determine what the culture will be like for LGBT Americans in their day to day lives.

How do I do it?

There have been efforts to mislead voters, so it’s important to have all the facts.

Voting is TOMORROW, NOVEMBER 6. Polling times start early in the morning, between 6-8 AM and end in the evening, between 6-8PM. Check your local polling place and laws for exact times. It is best to go early in the day. Expect lines and some wait time. Election officials will allow everyone in line to vote when the polls close, but you must be in line by closing time.

Google has created a tool to help determine where your polling place is, and who is on the ballot. Type “How to Vote” in the Google search engine to be brought to the poll diner. Hurricane Sandy has disrupted voting locations along the East Coast. It is important to double-check your voting location, if you live in New York, or New Jersey, or another affected area.

Eight states, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Wyoming plus the District of Columbia have same-day voter registration. If you are not yet registered in one of these states, bring multiple pieces of ID, as well as further documentation (utility bill, lease, etc.). Note that both Minnesota and Maine have same day voter registration, which means even if you haven’t voted before, you can vote for marriage equality.

Most states allow workers to take time off of their job to vote if the worker doesn’t have sufficient time to vote outside of working ours. Check local laws.

States have different levels of voter ID laws, which has created problems for transgender voters. It’s also possible that voters may experience intimidation to keep them from voting. The most important thing is to know your statewide voting ID laws. If a poll worker or poll watcher attempts to deny you a ballot, call the National Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) immediately.

Make your vote count

Be sure to investigate all candidates before Election Day. In most cases, you can print a sample ballot for your local jurisdiction with all the offices on the ballot. As best you can, research each candidate’s views on LGBT equality, as well as other issues important to you. Do internet searches to see where and how the candidates have appeared in the media, or where their names are listed. Are they aligned with organizations that promote equality?

It cannot be stressed enough that even small committees and boards make a tangible difference to the lives of LGBT Americans.

Encourage others to vote

We need every LGBT and allied vote we can get. Encourage your friends to vote as well. Let people know you voted, and encourage them to do so as well. Wear your “I VOTED” sticker with pride! Take a photo and post it on Facebook. Or share these tweets:

For Maine:

For Maryland:

For Minnesota:

For Washington:

No matter what happens on Election Day (tomorrow, November 6), GLAAD will continue to be here, making sure that LGBT people are fairly and accurately represented in the media, from election coverage to local stories. We’ll do our part, now it’s up to you to do yours.