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  • Sasha Anand

Voting for Dummies: A quick guide for first time voters

By Sasha Anand

In a world where it seems like TikTok is the most current area to discuss an election, it can be hard for new voters, and even seasoned ones, to keep up with what is happening, aside from all the candidate impressions and memes.

Here is a quick guide where you can see the state of the general election so far and learn some new terms, all readable in 2 minutes, or the equivalent of 4 Vivek Ramaswamy impression videos!


Below is a simple timeline of the key events this election cycle. A prepared, educated voter will do their own research as well, hence the links and terms later in this article, but if you want to see some quick events this is the timeline for you!

*January 2024-November 2024

Key terms for first-time voters

-Candidate: person running for office  

-Electoral College: made up of electors who are appointed by the political parties of each state; they pledge to vote for the candidate with the most popular votes in their state

  •  you can win the popular vote but still lost the election because electors are winner takes all

  • for example if there are 7 million popular votes for one candidate but 3 million for the other but the 2nd candidate has more electors they win!

-Swing State: a state where both parties have very close votes, who will win the electors over is unpredictable

-Voter Registration: signing up to be a voter

-Voter ID: used to identify you when you go vote

-Early Voting: casting your vote before the big election day

-In Person Voting: going to vote at an actual polling place

-Ballot: the physical piece of paper where you write your vote

-Absentee Ballot [also called mail in ballot]: if you cant make it in person you can vote through the mail!

-Casting a Vote: formally making a choice on your ballot

-Blue versus Red state: what "team" is popular in an area [red- republican/blue- democrats]

-Party Affiliation: declaring what party you side with [eg democrat,republican,independent]

-Polling Place: where you go to cast your vote

-Poll Worker: person who helps you at the polling place

-Bipartisan: involving members of 2 political parties

-Nonpartisan: involving members of 0 parties

-Canvassing: contacting voters to get support for an issue or candidate [usually done by volunteers on behalf of the candidates team]

Types of elections and political gatherings

-Presidential Preference Election[PPE]: big voting event where people choose who they want as the main CANDIDATE for president

-Primary Election: primary election where voters choose their preferred candidates for the MAIN election [eg choosing between Nikki Haley and Donald Trump to run against President Biden]

  • the presidential preference election is a TYPE of primary

-Caucus: political meet up where neighbors meet up and discuss personal opinions to convince others to vote for their preferred candidate, then they vote. [This is used so candidates can see if their strategy is working]

-General Election: main election in November where you choose who you want to be president

-Convention: big event where each party announces who they are officially supporting in the upcoming election


Now that you know more about the main events this election season, and some important vocabulary you will need to know, you are almost ready to vote.

All you need to do now is to figure out what issues matter to you! Then you will be able to make an informed, sound decision rather than basing your decision on 3 clips on the internet.

Since you've made it this far, click the link and register to vote, then you can go back to scrolling on TikTok.



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