We are 89 days away from the November 3, 2020 election in the US. Lest this realization leaves you paralyzed with anxiety and fear, here are 7 easy actions you can take to get out the vote.
For those not so politically-inclined, a word. Resist the temptation to wash your hands of politics. I get it — the democratic process can be icky and wasteful and some may even think pointless, considering the gridlock in Congress. But, we need to vote. Political apathy erodes our democracy, leaving it vulnerable to stagnation and corruption. (Not to mention a certain dangerously inept reality TV star).
If you are eligible to vote, it is your civic responsibility to get informed on the issues you care about and vote accordingly. I promise, being an active citizen feels much better than being an apathetic one — and it’s so easy! Start with step one today to get out the vote. Then give yourself a cookie.
1) Check your registration status and confirm your state’s relevant deadlines and voting requirements.
2) Request your mail-in-ballot.
If you worry about voting in person during the COVID-19 pandemic and your state allows reason-free mail-in voting, request your mail-in ballot.
- NOTE: Keep in mind that the US Postal Service is already over-burdened and under-funded, so expect delays. If you are voting by mail, allow a two week cushion before November 3 to ensure your ballot will be counted. Consider October 20th your new election date — plan accordingly!
3) Send registration and vote-by-mail dates to your own network.
You do not need a massive social media following to make an impact. Remind your network, however small, to check their own registration status, request their mail-in-ballots and educate them on the relevant deadlines and voting requirements in their state. This can take the form of a social media post, a group text or an email blast, in which you include this link: https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/ . It’s that simple.
4) Host a (virtual) letter party.
Get a group of friends or family together (virtually!) to send hand-written letters to low-propensity voters to encourage turnout. Vote Forward makes it incredibly easy. Commit to sending a set number of letters each, and consider the cost of stamps your contribution toward furthering democracy.
5) Adopt a swing state.
Due to the electoral college system, the presidential election will actually be determined by the results of a few key battleground states. Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Arizona are expected to be the key states this year. If you do not live in a swing state but wish to make an impact where it matters, consider adopting one of these swing states through Vote Save America. There are so many ways to contribute to and facilitate grassroots organizing from out-of-state, especially during this pandemic.
6) Support down-ballot candidates.
Given the extremely high stakes of this year’s presidential election, it’s easy to lose focus of the key down-ballot races throughout the country. Don’t fall into this trap! Down-ballot races will be crucial if you care about Democrats taking the Senate and maintaining control of the House. And having any hope of passing sweeping legislation to fight climate change, protect democracy and reboot the economy. You know, small issues like that. Down-ballot races at the state and local level are equally important. Look no further than the pandemic response to understand the importance of strong local leadership. Pick a few down-ballot races you care about and support those candidates with your money or time. $5 or 5 minutes can go a long way.
7) Combat election disinformation.
I am trying to keep this post (relatively) nonpartisan, but there is no getting around the fact that one party in particular is on a mission to suppress the vote this November and sow distrust in the American electoral system. Case-in-point, the baseless rumor that vote-by-mail would result in rampant voter fraud. THE FACTS:
- Voter fraud is exceedingly rare, and there is no evidence to suggest that vote-by-mail would result in widespread voter fraud. More than 250 million ballots have been cast by mail nationwide over the past 20 years, while there have been only 143 criminal convictions for election fraud related to mail ballots. This is a negligible fraud rate of 0.00006%.
- Voting by mail is not new and is the same as absentee voting. As with in-person-voting, states have safeguards in place to protect against mail-in-voting fraud.
Correct election disinformation whenever you hear or see it and spread factually accurate information about voting across your networks.
BONUS: Be a poll worker.
If you are young, healthy and want to go the extra mile this November, sign up to volunteer as a poll worker. Over half of the poll workers in the last presidential election were over age 60, which is the group most vulnerable to COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, we face a shortage of poll workers. This may result in closed polling locations and long polling lines, which is not ideal for holding a fair and safe election.