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Stay Informed. Stay Connected.

Tuesday, Nov. 8, is the day: Go vote!

Tuesday, Nov. 8, is Election Day in the U.S. and if you haven’t yet cast your ballot for the midterm elections, make a plan to do so today!

Already voted, or already have a plan? Use the hashtag #UCVotes on social media to connect with our community of informed citizens.

Why midterm elections matter

National races for Senate and House dominate the election news cycle, but this is also your chance to weigh in on local matters. California voters will decide on far-ranging issues including whether the state Constitution should guarantee a right to abortion, whether to fund electric vehicles through a new tax on billionaires and whether or not to ban the sale of flavored tobacco. The side with the most votes will win — no Congress or Electoral College to worry about.

“Presidential elections get a lot of attention, but the policies that most affect our day-to-day lives aren’t decided by the President,” says UC Berkeley student Skylar Betts. “They’re decided by officials like the county recorder that you may never even have heard of — and they can be decided by a handful of votes.”

What you need to know to vote today

1. Find out who and what is on the ballot

If you’re voting in California, your first stop for information is the voter guide and sample ballot mailed to every California voter. It details state measures along with arguments, organizations and major donors supporting each side. Voter’s Edge is another nonpartisan resource that lists local measures in California. If offers a feature “for new and busy voters” that provides simple, succinct summaries for each race. Cal Matters offers a digestible, entertaining and nonpartisan breakdown of the candidates and issues on the California ballot.

If you’re voting out of state, Ballotpedia and BallotReady offer nonpartisan, easy-to-use ballot lookup tools that show the races, candidates and measures that are up for a vote in your community. The League of Women Voters Vote411 provides nonpartisan tips on navigating the ballot as a first-time voter.

2. See who is promoting — and opposing — each measure

Voter initiatives — especially in California — are infamous for being confusing or downright misleading, with titles and descriptions that can make it hard to suss out what the measures will really do. One way to cut through the confusion: look closely at the organizations and funders backing each side. Is there a group pushing the legislation that has a financial stake in the outcome? What are the policy goals of the groups supporting or standing against the measure? These, together with third-party endorsements, can offer a clue to a measure’s intent. And help you decide how you want to vote.

3. Consider endorsements from organizations that share your views

Check out the slate of candidates and issues endorsed by the local chapters of political parties and advocacy organizations that you support. It’s also worth checking out coverage from your local news outlets to see what measures and candidates they endorse.

4. Talk over the issues with people you trust

Discuss the issues with friends and family. And make it social: Invite friends to share pizza and discuss the candidates and go over the ballot measures together. See if local clubs and cafes are hosting discussions for talking through what’s on the ballot.

5. Don’t sweat it, just vote

Don’t skip voting if you haven’t made up your mind on every issue. It’s okay to leave something blank. Even if you don’t fill in everything on your ballot, your perspective is important.

Visit University of California: Vote to get more information on how to participate.

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