September is here, and that means election season is right around the corner! One thing that both parties can agree on is that this election is crucial, and, during a global pandemic, presents never before seen challenges to all voters and our voting institution as a whole.
With so many of us still stuck at home and some traditional volunteering opportunities on hold, engaging in the election might be on your mind. But there is an overwhelming amount of information out there about how you can get involved, and It can be hard to figure out just how to start
Have no fear! We are here to distill down the different opportunities that exist and how you can be a valuable participant.
Getting out the Vote: Writing, Calling, and Texting from Your Couch
Some activities that you can do from the comfort of your own home without risk of any COVID-19 exposure is to write letters and postcards, and phone and text bank. There are many organizations (both nonpartisan and partisan) who are spearheading these efforts—below are some great ones to start with!
Postcards are very popular this year and for good reason—some evidence indicates that a handwritten message can have sway in getting citizens to vote. With quarantine still in full swing, some organizations like Postcards to Swing States have already met their goals. Postcards to voters is another popular organization, and they are still looking for volunteers. Sign-up is easy, and the organization will give you talking points to write on your postcards. You are responsible for stamps and picking your own postcards, which you can buy through the organization’s Etsy Store.
Letters are an alternative to postcards. Vote Forward is organizing a letter writing campaign, aimed at getting voters out to the polls. After you sign up, you are given a template to use, which you can just print, sign, and mail out. You can choose from many campaigns targeted at specific states. Write letters at your leisure from your home, and the website gives you an optimal date to mail the letters for maximizing the chances of getting voters out there!
And, as long as you have a phone, you can participate in texting and phone calls to help get out the vote. Some organizations that you can check out for this effort are Turnout 2020, When We All Vote, ACLU’s People Power, and Flip the West. Individual parties may have similar opportunities. You can text for Biden directly or through the Democratic party, and you can support the Republican party here.
Another organization to check out is Vote Save America’s Adopt a Battleground State campaign. For those of us that do not live in a crucial battleground state, you can sign up to “adopt” one and be connected to volunteers in that state who can guide you on how you can help get out the vote there from your home. Get help choosing a state to adopt here.
Protecting Our Democratic Voting Process
Because of the global pandemic, we can all expect even more chaos during the voting process than usual. More voters will be voting my mail, which will be a new experience for many and undoubtedly raise questions. Whether by mail or in person, voters may face increased security measures and requirements. In order to make sure all eligible voters will be able to vote, many organizations have launched increased election protection campaigns this cycle.
Lawyers, law students, or even those without any legal experience can sign up through We the Action to engage in election protection work. The primary work is to man the call centers, where voters call in with any questions about how to vote this year. This is a fully remote opportunity, and you can choose that shifts you work and which geographic region you want to cover. In certain locations, depending on your zip code, you may also have the opportunity to help in person at the polls to answer questions or respond to issues that arise on election day. The organization provides training to all its volunteers.
Other partisan organizations also offer opportunities for you to be a poll watcher on election day. Your best option is to reach out to a local office of the party you want to work for regarding opportunities. For example, you can sign up to poll watch for Biden here.
Or want to work on voter suppression issues? Connect with Center for Common Ground’s Reclaim Our Vote Campaign. The organization utilizes postcards, texts, and phone calls to help ensure voters are registered and know how to go vote.
Working the Polls on Election Day
Working the polls will be more essential than ever in these times. Polls are often manned by senior citizens, who are more at risk for complications. If you are healthy, able, and comfortable, serving as a poll worker would be a great way to protect these vulnerable citizens and take over their crucial roles this election! Making sure polls are sufficiently staffed will keep more polling stations open, reduce wait times, and help the voting process run more smoothly. Our own Lee and Alison did this recently and you can hear about their experience here!
Not sure how to get started? Power the Polls is organizing a centralized effort, and you can start there to find information about your state. Most jurisdictions require you to be eligible to vote in the local jurisdiction or state to poll watch there. So check out your local Elections Division or this website to find local information.
For example, in California, you can learn about how to be a poll worker here. Signing up is easy! And they will provide you with training materials to make sure you are informed about the laws, the process, and what to look out for.
Once you are connected with a local polling place, you can find out more about what protections they are taking with respect to COVID-19 to keep their poll workers safe.
Bottom line—no matter how you choose to participate, there are many options even during quarantine, so we hope to see you out there, doing what you can to help get out the vote and protect the election this November!
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