The UU Voting Guide

Step 1: Plan to vote
A commitment to the Democratic Process is one of our UU principles.  Know where your polling place is.

Step 2: Encourage others to vote
Do you know someone who needs a ride to the polls?  Ask around at your church.  Help others research their polling place and understand their ballot.

Step 3: Study your ballot
Find out what's on your ballot and study the small races, too.  They're decided by fewer votes, and yours matters.

Step 4: Vote the whole ballot
Most Americans don't vote their whole ballot.  And more Democrats than Republicans don't fill out the whole ballot.  That's what I recently heard, although I can't find a source to cite.  Believe it's true, though, and let it motivate you to look up those judges, regents, school board candidates, and ballot initiatives.

Step 5: Avoid the Straight-Party Voting Option
Believe it or not, there is a lot of confusion out there about straight-party voting.  There is confusion about which races it covers, whether or not if you mark one item separately that will override part or all of the ballot, and other issues.  It turns out, SPV works differently in different states.  In Michigan, for example, you can vote straight-party for Party A and then override it with Party B in a particular race.  In other states, you cannot override the SPV.  In North Carolina it used to be the case that the SPV vote did not include the presidential race (this was recently eliminated).  Unless you have a lot of confidence you understand the idiosyncrasies of your state's SPV system, avoid it.  In addition, it often leads people to forget about the non-partisan ballot items.  Take your time, and mark things one at a time.  

Step 6: Bring Your Principles into the Voting Booth
There are issues that UUs care about -- anti-oppression, anti-racism, multiculturalism, reproductive freedom, immigration reform, LBGT rights including marriage equality, the environment, peace, escalating inequality, and religious freedom, just to name a few.  Know where the politicians stand on the issues and vote your UU values.

Step 7: Share Your Beliefs
I always bring my child into the voting booth with me.  She's often heard me talk about the candidates, or even knows the candidates herself in the case of school board and other local races.  I let her mark in some of the bubbles, and share with her why I think voting is important.   Prior to the election, I almost always talk with my extended family about who we're each supporting and why. Voting isn't a personal matter to me -- it's an expression of values and beliefs, and my UU principles.

Post by: Cynthia Landrum


  1. My parents often brought me with them to vote (and even to go door to door for candidates). It is a nice memory. It gave me a lifelong sentimental attachment to the ritual of the ballot box, and I have never, to my knowledge, missed an election as a result.

  2. Kidewi1:37 PM

    I brought a Chinese post-graduate student (who's renting a room from me) to my polling place. We asked lots of questions and it was enlightening for both of us.

  3. The only thing that I would add is that you have treat voting as a discipline. You vote whether you feel enthused or not. You vote whether you and your candidates have a chance of winning or not a snowball's chance in Hell. You vote when your party nominates a candidate who you opposed in the primary. In the long run, you accumulate more power as a regular and consistent voter.


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