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Civic Engagement and Voting: How to Vote

This guide shares resources and strategies for learning about socio political issues in order to vote or otherwise participate in civic discourse. It also details local resources for getting involved as well at UNLV and local events.

How to Vote - Step by Step

Voting, whether it's for the first time or the fiftieth, can seem daunting, so we have broken it down into three easy steps for you: register, research, and react! Click on the dropdown on the main tab to learn more about the three steps individually.

Register -  Check out our step by step guide page for voter registration! From choosing your political party to knowing when deadlines are for getting registered and voting, check out this guide for help on starting your voting process.

Research - Check out our step by step guide page for tips on pre-voting research! From reflecting on your personal values and how they align with political issues to seeking out objective information and empathizing with others, check out this guide for help on how to be a more informed voter!

React - You are all prepped and ready to go, now you just need to figure out how and why to vote! Check out the React page for this information.

Voting for the first time

Voting for the first time can be intimidating! Browse these resources to become more comfortable with voting. 

Resources / books / videos

Related Guides


Register to Vote 

Step One - Prepare to Register 

Before registering to vote you will want to identify which state you are voting in, look up the requirements, and consider if you would like to register with a political party. 

  1. Identify State & Requirements
    1. update with unique situation for college students re: multi states
  2.  Finding your political party (or not!)
    • When it comes time to register to vote, you'll be asked to choose register with the political party of your choosing. Check out these great resources to help determine what political party your values align most closely with!

      • Pew Research Center - The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the world.
      • ISideWith - ISideWith is another great nonpartisan source to check out. ISideWith offers information about current political issues, elections, and candidates. 
      • Accredited Schools Online - Accredited Schools Online has put out an amazing first-time voter guide that includes information about voter demographics, voting facts versus myths, and a great political affiliation quiz.

Step Two : Register to Vote


Once you've determined the political party that aligns most closely with your values and beliefs, it will be time to get registered! Voting registration requirements vary from state to state, so check out How to Vote using TurboVote at UNLV for more info!

The basic requirements for getting registered to vote in Nevada are simple. To start, you must be a United States citizen and at least 18 years old by election day, but you are able to pre-register at 17 years old! In order to be registered and vote in Nevada, you must have been living here for at least 30 days prior to registering. Luckily, you can register to vote any time, including election day, once you have established residency. Lastly, in order to prove your state residency, you'll need to have a Nevada ID card, so make sure you have yours!

To recap, you must be: 

  • A United States citizen
  • 18 years old by election day4
  • A resident of Nevada
  • Nevada Identification 

To register, sign up through TurboVote at UNLV. They make the process super easy and you can even sign up for election reminders!



When doing political research for the purpose of voting you will want to reflect on where your beliefs fit in within political discourse, seek information to learn more, and empathize with others who may have different lived experiences from you that will be impacted by your vote.


Step 1: Reflect

The first step when preparing to research is to reflect on your viewpoints and biases. Reflecting on what you find to be most important will allow you to better determine where you fall on the political spectrum. The topics below are all great places to start when reflecting.

  • Values you grew up with
  • Issues and subjects that you are drawn to
  • Your positionality 

Below are a few websites that you can visit to see which political parties your values align most closely with. 

  • Pew Research Center - The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the world.
  • ISideWith - ISideWith is another great nonpartisan source to check out. ISideWith offers information about current political issues, elections, and candidates. 
  • Accredited Schools Online - Accredited Schools Online has put out an amazing first-time voter guide that includes information about voter demographics, voting facts versus myths, and a great political affiliation quiz.

After reflecting on your values and using them to take the political typography assessments, you will be able to better understand which political candidates and issues to vote for based on what is important to you. 

Step 2 : Seek


After reflecting to understand where you fall on the political spectrum, the next step is to seek out information that allows you to make informed decisions. Below is a list of websites that you can check out to stay up to date on the validity of the information that you are presented within the media. 

  • AllSides is a recourse that aggregates stories from other news sources and then decides if it has a slight left or right bias, or is it could be considered propaganda. This resource is helpful to use when you are feeling overwhelmed by a particular news story. 
  • is a great resource to check the voting history of any candidate that is currently in office. By seeing how they vote, you can better understand the values of the candidates and how they typically serve in office. 
  • is a project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center and is a nonpartisan, nonprofit "consumer advocate" project. Their goal is to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. Politics by monitoring the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the forms of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and new releases. 


For more information on resources for seeking political information visit the Researching Issues & Candidates page.

Step Three : Empathize 


In addition to reflecting on your values and seeking out credible information, it is also important to empathy in the sense that these political issues will impact real people. Take your time researching issues and understanding their potential impact.

Some perspectives need to be sought out more than others as perspectives of dominant communities are shared more frequently and given more weight. When this is the case, we should be thinking about whose perspective we don't have access to as frequently. For example, if you are straight and there is legislation on the table that affects the LGBTQIA+ community, it is important to seek out those perspectives on that legislation. Additionally, if you are a member of a marginalized community, it is important to ensure that you are practicing self-care when seeking other perspectives as you may run into harmful language about your communities. 

This practice is particularly important for individuals who belong to dominant communities. If during your reflection you realize that you spend most of your time interacting with perspectives that validate your own, make significant efforts to reach out to people in other communities in order to learn about their perspectives. This can look like

  • Reaching out to folks in the community in good faith
  • Scrolling through Twitter of forums where members of a community might feel more comfortable sharing their perspectives in a way that doesn't place the burden on them to describe their life experiences on a regular basis
  • Reading to gain insight into the lives of others

Empathizing is something everyone must incorporate into their research structure for politics. As the votes, we cast impact everyone in our country so we want to make sure we are considering all of those perspectives. 


React -- aka, Vote!

The three main parts of reacting and preparing to vote are understanding where and how to vote, knowing and feeling confident in your rights as a voter, and learning more about the different election season and how to get up to date information on when to vote. 

Step 1 - Where & How To Vote

What you need in order to vote can vary from state to state. In order to vote in Nevada, you need to make sure that you are:

  • Registered to vote!
  • Able to confirm your name and address
  • Have your photo identification ready (optional)

U.S. Vote Foundation - The U.S. Vote Foundation website has helpful information for each state like 

  • Upcoming Election Dates and Deadlines
  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Identification Requirements
  • Voter Materials Transmission Options
  • State Lookup Tools – Am I Registered? Where’s my Ballot? - is a website with tons of great resources. Use this link to find your polling place in any state. 

Step 2 - Understanding Your Voter Rights

Below is a list of a few your rights as a voter in the United States. Always remember that it is your right as a citizen to cast your ballot on election day.

  • If the polls close while you are still in line to vote, you are allowed to wait until you have voted. 
  • If the machines are down at your polling place, you can ask for a paper ballot. 
  • It is illegal to intimidate voters by intimidating, threatening, or coercing any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of the other person to vote or to vote as they may choose. 
  • You do not need to prove your citizenship to anyone at the polling location
  • If you have a disability or do not read or speak English well, you are allowed to bring a family member or friend to assist you at the polls.

ACLU.Org - The ALCU also has more information about your rights as a voter. Check out this link to feel more prepared on election day. 

Step 3 : Beyond Voting

Your political activism doesn't need to stop after you're done voting. Below are some different ways that you can stay involved in your community and make a difference.

  • Organizing and Community Engagement 
    • Help plan events or volunteer for existing events in your neighborhoods and communites. 
  • Activism
    • Start organzing around isues that are important to you. Advocate for what you believe is right and encourage others to participate as well.
  • Donating 
    • If you have the means, donate money to the folks doing the work. Sometimes we aren't able to show up to events, but you have the opportunity to donate even 5 to 10 dollars. Activists appreciate even the smallest amounts, and they all donations add up. Supporting activist through donations help encourage ground workers and make them feel good about the work that they are doing, especially when they are fighting long and difficult battles
  • Encourage others to vote
    • Every vote matters! Encourage the people in your life to get active in the community as well. 
  • Participate in the Census
    • Making sure you fill out your Census information is crucial. The data that the census collects helps to determine things like how many representatives each state will have in Congress for the next 10 years, and how much federal funding communities will receive for roads, schools, housing and social programs. Filling out the Census is a great way to make a positive impact on your community.

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