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Whether you have local elections today or not, take a look at some campaign song blasts from the past.

Learn About the Electoral College

Today, U.S. citizens vote for president and other offices. But did you know the president is not chosen by a nationwide popular vote?

After today’s general election ballots are counted, electors in the Electoral College system will cast their votes for U.S. president in December. When their votes are counted in January, the presidential candidate who gets more than half (270 votes) wins the election.

Each state has a certain number of electors, based on each state’s total number of members of Congress. For example, a large state like California has 54 electoral votes, while Rhode Island has only four. All together, there are 538 electoral votes.

The founding fathers established the Electoral College in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the president by a vote in Congress and election of the president by a popular vote of qualified citizens.

Learn more about the Electoral College, including who the electors are, and key dates for the 2012 presidential election.

See if you can predict who will win the presidential election, and check out a children’s guide to the electoral college process.

Make sure you know the location and hours of your polling place, voter ID requirements, and rights regarding provisional ballots. You can also find more information to make sure you’re ready to vote in the elections.

How to Prepare for Election Day

As the election approaches, it’s important to make sure you’re familiar with the voting procedures in your state.

Polling Place Location and Hours

Prepare for election day by confirming the location of your polling place and when it opens and closes. Check your state election website to find your polling location and hours.

Some states allow early voting. If your state offers this option, be sure to check the location. Your early voting polling location may be different than on election day.

Polling Place Accessibility

If you need special assistance, contact your local elections office for information, advice, and educational materials about voting equipment and details on access to the polling place, including designated parking.

Voter Identification (ID) Requirements

Some states require that you show identification in order to vote. Check your state election website for voter ID rules.

Provisional Ballots

If there are questions about your eligibility to vote because your name does not appear on the voter registration record or you do not have the required ID, federal law allows you to cast a provisional ballot. Individual states may allow you to cast a provisional ballot for other reasons.

Provisional ballots are reviewed after the election and counted if your eligibility can be verified.

Research the Candidates

Make sure you’re familiar with your voting options when you head to the polls. Learn more about how to research the various candidates in federal, state and local elections.

Voter Intimidation

Voter intimidation is illegal, and the U.S. Department of Justice is working to prevent. If you feel like you have been target by any form of voter intimidation, learn how to report it.

How to Research Candidates in the Upcoming Election

In less than a month, people across the country will vote for the next president, as well as other state and local offices. If you want to vote, it’s important to make sure you are registered and know about your voting options, such as early voting and requesting an absentee ballot.

It’s just as important that you are familiar with the races on your local ballot so you can make informed decisions. Most state election sites have a list of candidates or a sample ballot. This can help you become familiar with who is running for office.

Check Voter Guides

If you want to learn more about the candidates’ views on topics that matter to you, then you might want to check the candidates’ websites or a voter guide. The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, produces an online voter guide where you can find a sample ballot, candidates’ answers to specific questions, and links to the candidates’ websites.

There are many organizations that produce voter guides to encourage voting for certain candidates based on the priorities of the group, such as the environment or health care. These organizations may be able to help you find information about the candidates’ positions on issues that matter to you.

Many state and local organizations, such as newspapers, also produce voter guides. These can be a good way to find additional information about local issues of interest.

If you are unsure of where to look for information about a candidate or want to find a local voter guide, check with your local public library.

Research Voting History

If a candidate is currently in office or previously held office, then you can also view the person’s voting history. In order to do this, you need to know information about a piece of legislation the candidate voted on, such as bill name or number.

If the candidate served in Congress, you can find voting history by visiting Congress.gov and checking the Major Actions tab on a piece of legislation, such as Senate bill 3187. Here you’ll find links to Senate sites that contain a record of the vote on the bill.

If the candidate served in a state office, then try checking your state legislature’s website for similar information.

Some organizations may also add voting history on specific issues to their voter guides.

Don’t Forget Ballot Measures

In addition to voting for candidates, you may be presented with ballot measures, additional questions about issues impacting your state or local community.

Your state election site or sample ballot should also have information about any ballot measures that you will vote on in November. A state or local voter guide may also include details about the issue that can help you determine how to cast your vote.