When I talk to my friends about the upcoming election, two themes emerge.
Some are wanting to get more involved with the political process for the first time in order to beat Trump and save our democracy, but they are confused and overwhelmed by all the options.
Others who may have been involved in supporting candidates in the past are worried about COVID-19, and the traditional ways they’ve volunteered their time could put them at risk for exposure to the virus.
The good news is that there are a few easy ways to get involved that are fully remote! And some other relatively safe in-person options for those that aren’t high risk for COVID-19. I’ve pulled these options together here to help you get involved in the way that best suits you.
1. How to make sure your vote counts
The first, most important thing you can do is vote. But voting doesn’t begin on election day. You’ve got to register, you’ve got to make sure you have the right identification, and then you’ve got to vote according to all the rules in your area.
Here’s what you’ve got to do:
- Check your voter registration status, and if you’re not registered, register ASAP.
- Once you’re registered, check out the voter ID requirements in your area. Make sure you have your identification ready to go way before election day to avoid last minute barriers to cast your ballot.
- Find out what’s on your ballot and educate yourself about local and state elections.
- Vote as early as possible and in person if you’re not at high risk for COVID-19. This will have two benefits. First, if you have any issues with your ID, you will have some time to work things out and still have your vote counted. In addition, your vote will likely be counted by the end of election night, which will help avoid a crisis if Trump is ahead before mail-in ballots are counted.
- If you have to vote by mail for any reason, request your mail-in ballot right now and familiarize yourself with the rules and deadlines for your state. USPS delays combined with an increased reliance on mail-in voting this election could put you at risk for missing the deadline. Avoid these five mistakes that could invalidate your ballot. You should also know that in some states, like Texas, fear of COVID-19 does not count as a valid excuse to vote by mail.
- For good measure, read the section for your state in this article by Slate sub-titled “An extremely comprehensive guide to making sure your ballot gets counted, no matter where in America you live.”
2. What you can do to make sure other people can vote
Once you’ve secured your own vote, the next best thing you can do is protect and promote the voting rights of others.
Note for those high risk for COVID-19: You may not be able to do either of these things. That’s okay! Just move on to #3 where we’ll go over other ways you can help increase voter turnout against Trump.
Become a deputy voter registrar
By becoming a deputy voter registrar, you’ll be able to help people (family, friends, and even strangers at your local BLM protest) register to vote.
The rules for how to do this vary by state, and surprisingly, I haven’t been able to find a comprehensive resource with the details for each state. Perhaps I’ll build one!
But for now, just Google “deputy voter registrar [your state]” or “deputy voter registrar [your county]”, and you should be able to find it.
Sign up to work the polls
Most of the people who work the polls during the election season are retired folks, but because many of them are at risk for complications due to COVID-19, they are opting out this year. Young people who are not at high risk need to step up in their place!
By signing up to work the polls, you can prevent long lines and ensure that your polling place is conducting the election fairly.
3. How you can increase voter turn out against Trump
No matter how many voters we register on the left, none of it will matter if folks aren’t enthusiastic enough to get out and vote. You can help increase turn out for people who support Biden (or at least, will vote against Trump).
Increase turnout by volunteering your time
- Consider why you’re voting for the Biden/Harris ticket. When you start talking to people about voting, you’ll likely be asked, so it’s best to be prepared with an answer. You can educate yourself about Biden’s vision and position on important issues on his website.
- Talk to your friends who share your values and ask them about their plan for election day. If they don’t have one, point them to this guide or other great resources such as Vote 411, Vote.org, or the League of Women Voters. Offer to help them go through the process! If you need more of a script, the Vote Joe app has a feature to help you text your friends.
- Participate in campaign texting or phone banking efforts. Organizations such as Powered by People (by Beto O’Rourke) and Mobilize.us have organized remote texting and calling opportunities to safely reach out to voters from your home. Personally, this was my first year, and it’s a lot easier than it sounds.
- Join the Biden Digital Coalition. If you’re social media savvy, the Biden Digital Coalition needs your help to push out Joe’s message, assist voters on social media who are looking for information, and fight back against the misinformation often pushed by the Trump campaign and his supporters.
Increase turnout by donating money
Maybe you don’t have time to text or call or talk to friends about voting. You can still support the campaign by donating money. And you don’t have to be rich to make a difference. Small donations are what make coalitions work!
Here are some ways to put your money where your mouth is:
- Defeat by Tweet: My personal favorite – every time Trump tweets, you donate a few cents.
- Buy Biden Merch: Yard signs, hats, and t-shirts help support the campaign by providing funds and help you spread the word about Joe.
- Joe Biden Campaign Donation: Send money to Joe Biden’s team to help them drive enthusiasm and counter lies from the Trump campaign.
- Powered By People: Help Beto O’Rourke’s team turn Texas blue.
- Fair Fight 2020: Help Stacey Abrams build a coalition to protect our elections from foreign influence and voter suppression.
4. How to make sure your values are represented once Biden is elected
Many of you may be voting against Trump rather than for Biden. And that’s okay. Voting is more like buying a car than getting married. You’re looking for the best, most viable option to get you from Point A to Point B.
Thank God I didn’t have to drive my 2007 Suzuki Aerio with a broken driver’s side door forever…And you won’t have to stick with Biden forever either.
We can support him in order to defeat Donald Trump and hold him accountable in areas where we disagree with him.
The best way to make sure your voice is heard by our leaders is to get involved with their campaigns. But it doesn’t stop with the election. Once Biden takes office, you can continue to push for the issues you care most about.
How to hold your elected official accountable once they’re in office
- Stay informed about their voting record. You can look up Congressional votes online and fact check statements from your representatives.
- Contact your legislators about the issues for which you are passionate. Feel strongly about how they should vote on an upcoming bill? Look up their contact information, and give them a call, send them an email, mail them a letter, or tag them in a tweet. Make your voice heard! And if they don’t vote your way, contact them again to let them know how you feel and what you’re going to do about it.
- Show up at events in your area. When your elected official holds an event in your area, show up. Many voters get to meet their elected officials this way, and they can share their stories in person. This is a powerful opportunity to make your point stick!
- Get involved with activist groups. It can be hard to make your voice heard as an individual, but when people organize around a cause, they can have a greater impact. Join the local chapter for your favorite activism group, and if there isn’t one in your area, start one.
- Keep voting. In the words of Willie Nelson, if you don’t like who’s in there, vote ’em out!