After recently phone-banking for a campaign, I’ve compiled a few tips that might help voters as state primaries roll around and the impending presidential election looms.

1. Read the literature you’re given.
Are you a knowledgeable voter? Don’t count those silly ads you see from time to time on Food Network between a screaming Guy Fieri and “Chopped” as legitimate information. Do you investigate candidates’ websites and research their voting histories? Do you listen to every debate broadcasted on TV? The answer is probably a resounding no. Regardless, the least you can do is read that little pamphlet campaign volunteers wedge in between your doorframe. It’ll most likely give you a pretty good idea of a candidate’s campaign platform.

2. Don’t hang up on volunteers who take the time to call you.
If a person started a conversation with you, would you simply sprint away if you didn’t want to talk to them? No. First of all, it’s rude and second, it’s just strange. If a person working for a candidate’s campaign calls your home, listen to what they have to say. This comes back to the importance of voter knowledge. When you listen to calls, you become a well-informed voter. Plus, you can ask specific questions about candidates or find out where your polling location is. By picking up the phone and being a nice, civil human being, you’re also brightening the day of an overworked, incredibly tired volunteer who makes hundreds of calls a day to bitter senior citizens.

3. Go to a rally.
I know what you’re thinking — a rally is a glorified cesspool of crazy youth coming together to clap in unison and chant various phrases with offbeat timing. You’re sort of right, but also sort of wrong. Rallies provide a great chance for you to get involved with politics in your community. You could potentially meet

Voting for your next president should be a conscience decision. PHOTO VIA FLICKR USER TIM EVANSON.

Voting for your next president should be a conscience decision. PHOTO VIA FLICKR USER TIM EVANSON.

candidates, discuss issues with other voters and hear more about what the candidates have to say. Sure, it might be crowded and sweaty, but the possibility of free food and complimentary pens at the end of an event makes it all worth it.

4. Don’t be afraid to contact a candidate or their headquarters.
Candidates want to know what you care about, especially in local and small-scale elections. Most of the voting population doesn’t do their civic duty and vote, so many candidates will fight for the support of active voters. Go ahead and ask the tough questions. Many candidates will take the time to give you an answer. I imagine many will explain how they’ll address your concerns when they’re elected to office. You’ve got the power, so use it.

5. Make a conscious effort to schedule when you’ll vote.
Don’t just wake up on Election Day and think, “I’ll go vote if the weather permits it.” Take the time to figure out how you’ll get to your polling location, when you’ll get to your polling location and how much time it’ll take to cast your vote. If you plan your Election Day agenda, you’re much more likely to follow through. Think of voting as a homework assignment — put in the effort and you’ll see results.

6. Acknowledge the arguments of candidates you don’t agree with.
I know it’s easy for the majority of Americans to write off opinions they don’t agree with. However, there’s a possibility that the candidate you support could potentially lose. This means that a candidate you disagree with could represent your district, state or country. Put in the effort to see the other side. Historically, politics and government work much better when we work to reach a common ground (also called compromise). I’m not saying you have to wholly support ideals you don’t feel comfortable with. Just try to see where the other side is coming from. It’s not that hard to do. Kindergarteners can do this, people.

7. Actually vote.
This part’s a piece of cake. Just do it. Women in dozens of countries would kill to have this right. Also, if Trump wins, don’t complain if you didn’t vote — you’re now a part of the problem.