Procrastinator’s guide: What’s this election about? Can I even vote? Get basics here

Maybe you’ve gotten some mailers from candidates or seen some yard signs in your neighborhood. Maybe you saw a billboard or an ad on TV. You know there is an election — but maybe that’s all you know.

This story is for you. No matter your level of knowledge on Tuesday’s election, here’s what you need to do to vote successfully:

What is this election for?

It’s mostly to choose people to serve on city councils. Some mayors’ jobs are on the ballot, notably in Boise, Meridian and Eagle. There are a few local school and fire district candidates and bond measures scattered around Ada and Canyon counties. There are two high-profile ballot measures in Boise to enact new city ordinances — one on the proposed new main library, the other on a proposed sports stadium.

I’m not registered. Can I vote anyway?

Yes. Idaho allows you to register at your polling place. (See “Where do I vote?” below.)

If you’re new to the area, have recently moved or just aren’t sure you’re registered, make sure to bring:

▪ A photo identification (state issued ID, tribal card, U.S. passport or current student ID)

▪ A state ID number or the last four digits of your social security number

▪ Proof of residency (vehicle registration, current utility bill, bank statement, etc.)

If you know for sure you’re registered at your current address (you can check with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office), you’ll still need to bring an ID such as a driver’s license, state ID card, tribal card, U.S. passport or student ID. You can still vote without those, but you’ll be required to sign a “personal identification affidavit.”

You have a right to ask for help from poll workers or to bring someone with you to help you vote. Poll workers can read you your ballot and help you mark your selection.

How can I find out exactly what I will vote on?

Check out a sample ballot first.

Ada County: Search “Ada County what’s on my ballot” online. Click on “View My Ballot - Elections - Ada County” in your search results. Then click on “View Your Ballot.”

Canyon County: Search “Canyon County what’s on my ballot” online. Click on “Elections | Canyon County” in your search results. Then click on “What’s on my ballot?”

I want to vote intelligently. How can I get up to speed?

The best way to learn about candidates, issues and major ballot measures is to go to the Statesman’s online-only story, “Election Day is almost here, and you don’t know who or what to vote for. Here’s help.

That story is a clearinghouse. It tells you basic information and offers you links to anything you want to learn more about. Scroll through that story to your city and follow the links, which point you to:

Statesman news, feature and watchdog stories.

Our online Voter Guides, where candidates answered questions in their own words.

Videos of Boise, Meridian and Eagle mayoral candidates making their one-minute “elevator pitches” to you, the voter.

Non-Statesman sources of information.

The Statesman editorial board’s recommendations.

You can also go to IdahoStatesman.com/Election for the latest stories on this election.

Where do I vote?

The fastest way to find your polling place is to check online. If you live in Ada County, you can enter your address on the Ada County Elections website to learn your polling place.

If you have a disability that makes it hard to stand in line or access your polling place, you can ask a poll work to vote curbside. If you choose to do that, a poll worker will bring you your ballot outside the polling place or to your car. There are also special terminals at each polling place for those who have a hard time seeing or marking ballots.

Canyon County has a site similar to Ada County’s. Even if you’ve voted in Canyon County before, make sure you look up your polling place — nearly two dozen polling places have changed locations since the last election.

When should I vote?

Polling places will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. According to the Ada County Elections office, the longest lines come after 5 p.m. as people vote after work. You can check the number of votes cast by hour on Ada County Elections’ website , but for most precincts, the fewest votes are cast in the morning and in the early afternoon.

Where do I get the results?

People will know their new city leaders as soon as Tuesday night. The Statesman will be updating results throughout the night as new numbers come in and will report them at IdahoStatesman.com, in our politics and morning newsletters, and in the Thursday print and e-editions.

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Hayley covers local government for the Idaho Statesman with a primary focus on Boise. Previously, she worked for the Salisbury Daily Times, the Hartford Courant, the Denver Post and McClatchy’s D.C. bureau. Hayley graduated from Ohio University with degrees in journalism and political science.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.