As Americans prepare to cast their ballots in support of Gov. Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama or that other guy, the Lanthorn offers a few tips for the undecided, first-time voter.

1. Know yourself

The way people vote often depends on how they define themselves. Pew Research Center has reported trends showing that white Evangelical Protestants show a slight favor of Romney (76 percent to 17 percent), Hispanic Americans favor Obama (69 percent to 24 percent), and people making less than $30,000 a year prefer Obama (58 percent to 33 percent).

These people vote according to their primary identities, and you might do the same. But try to break that mold and think a little deeper.

Question yourself and your motives. The only way we can truly progress as a country is by deepening our understanding of ourselves, of each other and of our common mission as Americans to preserve freedom. If you call yourself American, then before you think of your own needs and wants or those of your “primary” community consider the lives of all Americans and the future of the nation as whole.

2. Know the issues

Okay, that’s tough. You’re expected to weigh the future of health care, the economy, science, sustainability, education, etc., and you’re not likely an expert in all areas, let alone one in particular.

Economics major, how much do you know about the health care model and its impact on that BMS student sitting next to you on Route 50? Nothing?

Well, collaborate. Let’s see some dialogue between future nurses and future lawyers, future business owners and future teachers. Get to know their hypothetical fate with each candidate, as well as your own.

Put the thought in, and put the time in to research to make it easier on yourself both at the polls, and even after they close; because voting for the candidate you know you believe in is better than voting for the candidate you think you believe in, only to find after they’re in office that it’s nothing like you thought it’d be.

It’s only two simple steps – and they don’t even require you to leave your living room.