Top things to know before the election if you don’t follow politics

The election this year is facing different circumstances as COVID-19 continues to loom in the U.S. It is understandable that there may be some confusion surrounding the election. With this in mind, here are some things to think about for Nov. 3 if you don’t actively follow politics, or if this is your first time participating in an election:

What can I expect on Election Day?

This presidential election is the first in history to take place during a pandemic. There have been changes to the electoral process as an increasing number of voters plan to vote by mail, despite President Donald J. Trump’s concerns about fraud. The public may not see final results until after Election Night.

Unfortunately, not even political experts know much about what will be happening on the day of the election, so don’t be frightened if you don’t know what to expect, No one does.

How is the winner chosen?
Despite popular votes, candidates ultimately compete to win electoral college votes.

Partly based on its population, each state is assigned a specific number of electoral college votes and there is a total of 538 of those votes available, so the winner is the candidate who receives 270 or more.

It is possible for a candidate to win the most votes nationwide but still not win the electoral college, as Hillary Clinton did in 2016.

All but two states have a winner-take-all system, meaning all of the state’s electoral college votes are awarded to whichever candidate receives the highest number of votes.

States generally lean toward one party or the other, but typically, the emphasis is on 12 or so states where one might win. These are known as battleground states.

When will the winner take office?
If Democratic candidate for presidency Joe Biden wins the election, there is a fixed transition period to allow the new leader time to select cabinet ministers and to make and finalize plans.

On Jan. 20, 2021, in a ceremony known as the inauguration held on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington D.C., the new president is formally sworn into office.

The new president returns to the White House after the ceremony to begin his four-year term in office.

Am I eligible to vote?
In Connecticut, you should be able to vote in the presidential election if you’re a U.S. citizen and are at least 17 but turning 18 before Election Day.

According to Connecticut’s state website, as a college student living away from home, you may be able to vote by either completing an absentee ballot for an election taking place in your home state or town or by registering to vote in West Haven.

When and how should I vote?
According to Democracy Works, in Connecticut, the last day to register to vote online, by mail, or in-person is Oct. 27. Absentee ballots, however, must be requested before Nov. 2. Voters will have until 8 p.m. Nov. 3 to return their ballot by mail or in person.

Learn more about in-person voter registration by visiting the Secretary of State for Connecticut or by contacting local election officials.

To vote, one must have a current and valid driver’s license, learner’s permit or non-driver’s photo identification card from the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and a signature on file with the DMV to use the online voter registration system.