The road leading up to the presidential election has sent many of us through a wave of emotions. From Trump supporters beating up peaceful African-American protesters to the release of the Clinton e-mails, we’ve been entertained, enlightened and downright terrified.
But now the time has finally come.
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, the presidential election and several down ballot elections will take place, with millions of Americans left wondering not just who to vote for, but what.
There are 4.5 million registered voters in New York City alone, so patience will undoubtedly be of the essence. Here are five things you need to know to be adequately prepared for election day.
1) African-American voters are most concerned with a weak Black voter turnout.
While a survey released by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies shows that a majority of African-Americans rank the 2016 election as very important, a weak voter turnout is still a great concern for the Black community. African-Americans played a crucial role in making Barack Obama a two-term president. Ninety-six percent of Black voters backed him in 2008, while 93 percent voted for Obama in 2012. This year’s early voting numbers do not point to such a marginal victory for either candidate. In fact, Black voters cast early voter ballots in higher numbers in 2012 for President Barack Obama than they did in this year’s election. For example, in North Carolina, a key battleground state, just 23 percent of Black voters have been counted in the early voting electorate, compared to 28 percent at this same time back in 2012, according to Black Enterprise. In Florida, there’s been a 3 percent dip among Blacks who are taking advantage of the early vote, compared to 2008.
2) There are twelve states that will have gubernatorial elections this year.
Twelve states will have gubernatorial elections in 2016, including a special election in Oregon that was prompted by the Feb. 2015 resignation of former Gov. John Kitzhaber. Eight seats are held by Democrats, and four by Republicans. Currently, the Republican party holds 31 governorships, a record win for the party. The governor position is critical, as he or she serves as the head of a state and its executive branch. In addition to Oregon, voters in Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont, West Virginia, Delaware, North Dakota, Utah and Washington will all determine who the next governor will be for their state.
3) The state of the economy remains a huge concern for many Americans.
In polls, voters consistently rank the economy as their top concern and candidates from both political parties have led with the subject in terms of their political campaigns. On one hand, the economy has drastically improved since President Obama was elected. The unemployment rate is now a little under 5 percent—down from 7.8 percent when he took office in 2009. Job growth has also been consistently strong. For profit businesses and corporations, as well financial markets have also rebounded from the recession. Yet, the economy has been highly criticized for benefiting the wealthy as opposed to the working class. Needless to say, the economy isn’t terrible or good enough in the opinion of Americans for one political party to have an edge over the other.
4) Hillary Clinton has just a slight edge on Donald Trump in the national polls.
An election poll published on The New York Times puts Hillary Clinton just a few points above Donald Trump in terms of presidential favorability (46.0% to 42.9%). The numbers are from a compilation of polls, including the New York Times/CBS News poll, the NBC News/Survey Monkey poll and the Bloomberg/Selzer poll. Out of the ten polls used to provide these percentages, all but one places Clinton as the projected winner by a margin of error as low as +2 and as high as +7. Individual polls are often incorrect, but the combination of poll results are quite reliable.
5) This isn’t one big election; it’s 51 small ones.
The nation’s 45th president needs at least 270 of the 538 electoral votes up for grabs. Each state has a certain amount of electoral votes, and the candidate that gets the most citizen votes in the state automatically wins the electoral votes that are designated to it. All eyes will be on Florida. The ethnically and politically mixed state accounts for 29 electoral votes, all of which Obama narrowly won in 2012. In 2000, after a contentious post-election day tug-of-war, George W. Bush defeated Al Gore there, and ultimately clinched the presidential election. New Hampshire, which normally votes Democratic, will also be up for grabs. Pennsylvania will also be on America’s radar, as it has 20 electoral votes that are up for grabs.
The earlier you vote, the better. Places of employment typically allot two hours of voting time (check with your employer), but go as early as possible to ensure that you are able to vote. Most polling places open as early as 6 a.m. and close as late as 8 p.m. Allow for large crowds, machine disruptions and any other interruptions that may prevent you from placing your ballot. To find your polling location and times of operation for your respective state, click here.
Shantell E. Jamison is a digital editor for EBONY.com and JETMAG.com. Her book, “Drive Yourself in the Right Direction” is available on Amazon. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @Shantell_em and Instagram @Shantell_em.