“Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender.”
These powerful words from Congressman Keith Ellison perfectly sum up the calamity that stands before us. From prohibitive voter ID laws, closed polling stations, cutbacks to early voting and purged voter rolls, voter suppression is real. Despite all the obstacles, your voice matters. Perhaps even, precisely because of all the obstacles. After all if your vote wasn’t so powerful, why would elected officials try so hard to stop it?
Maybe neither candidate physically or politically embodies the kind of person you want to be the president of the United States. Nevertheless, one of them will be sworn in. In choosing between the two, which candidate moves the country closer to the policies you would like to see happen? Which candidate would help elected officials you root for win their local races?
Our country is on fire. No literally, the wildfires in Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and California are still burning as we speak. Declining to vote in what may be the most important presidential election of our lives will have grave consequences for not only the next four years, but generations to come. We’ve assembled a helpful and comprehensive guide to help you submit your ballot!
Make a Plan to Vote
If you’ve just turned 18, legally changed your name, moved residence, or recently become a U.S. citizen, you have to register if you want to have your voice heard and your vote counted.
Already registered? Your work isn’t done yet! Thanks to rampant voter disenfranchisement, your registration may or may not still be valid. Even if you’re positive you’re already in the system, check on your status to make sure it’s up to date and you are registered at your current address.
Next step: deciding whether you want to vote by mail or in person. If voting by mail, request a ballot ASAP. With the current uncertainty with the USPS, you want to ensure your ballot arrives way before the deadline. Once you receive it in the mail, fill it out that same day and return the ballot. There is no time to waste!
Many states are allowing residents to vote in person prior to Election Day, and depending on where you live, it may have already begun! Nonpartisan site (and our grantee) Ballotpedia outlines all the procedural changes state by state on their website. If in-person voting has begun where you are, find out where your polling place is, how long the early voting period is in your state, and how you are getting there. Bring friends or family members if you’re able to & it’s reasonably safe to do so – our democracy hangs in the balance and the more at the polls, the merrier!
Headcount.org and Vote.org are great resources to complete all of these four steps.
Got your vote in? Fantastic. A few more actionable steps you can take:
- Become a poll worker. The sign-up varies by state, but general info can be found here.
- Share this blog with five people you know!
- Track your ballot
- Donate funds to smaller political races to see the changes you want enacted in your county, town, city, or state
- Get involved with organizations either fighting voter suppression (The Hometown Project, Fair Fight)* or helping support candidates win elections to create a more inclusive government (Vote Run Lead, She The People, Higher Heights)*
* These organizations are supported by The Harnisch Foundation