Election 2012: What You Need to Know

April Daniels Hussar, SELF magazine

It seemed like this election season would NEVER end, but end it will very soon, if you can actually believe it. Tuesday, November 6th is the date we decide who will sit in the Oval Office for the next four years-here's what you need to know.

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The most important thing you need to know? "Every vote does matter," says Chrissy Faessen, V.P. Communications and Marketing at Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage and build the political power of young people in the U.S. "Even in the 2008 elections, candidates won by a couple hundred votes," Faessen says. Plus, "you'll be voting on local, elected officials who control decisions about the types of resources that are going to your state," she says.


Also on the table? State and local issues. For example, four states will be deciding on marriage equality--people in Maine, Maryland and Washington will vote on ballots seeking to legalize gay marriage, while the Minnesotans will be voting on whether to ban it.

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Before you head to the polls, Faessen recommends visiting
Rock the Vote's Election Center, where you can find all the important information relevant to your state, including your polling place and hours, what you need to bring with you, and what you'll be seeing on your ballot.

You can also check out
SELF's Election Special to see where the Presidential Candidates stand on on critical issues like health care for women and the wage gap.

In the meantime, don't worry about or even pay too much attention to the polls, says Faessen. "The media spins the polls to tell the story that they want to tell," says Faessen, but remember, polls are just representative of small samples of the voting population. "The poll results affect everybody -- and that's the point of them, but don't pay attention," Faessen says. "It's about your voice, and your voice does matter."

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Speaking of your voice, if you have any trouble at your polling place on Tuesday-if you're told you can't vote, or that you're not registered when you know you are, or experience any issues casting your ballot-Faessen says you can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, a hotline staffed with legal experts, to get help.

A final thought: Women have only had the right to vote in this country for just over 90 years-hard to believe, but true. And Faessen says young people make up 25% of the entire electorate! "You have the power to change the direction of this country and the types of policies that are being put in to place," she says. See you at the polls on Tuesday, girls.

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