Good morning! It’s 2020! What fresh new hell has today brought? That’s about as close as I’ve come to a personal motto this year. Whether it’s yet further evidence that the lives of Black women are so devalued by the law it’s as if they don’t even exist, or a reminder that every moderate asshole in 2016 who was like, Sure, Trump’s an idiot, but it’s not like he’s HITLER was actually quite full of shit, the blows just keep coming. It’s completely fatiguing (which is probably part of the strategy). But we’ve got to focus. We are at a point before the election where the actions of the next few weeks have the potential to impact our lives — and the lives of immigrants, children and the disenfranchised, as well as our allies and others around the world — for years to come.
1) Get ready, get set…
Pyragraph published a #SuperchargeYourVote guide back in April, and the information is still absolutely solid. Check your current registration status. Even if you’ve already checked it, check it again! Make absotively, posolutely sure you are good to go. If you need to register or you want to update your info, do it now.
2) Do the thing: in person or by mail
This year, more than ever, it’d be really good to have a plan for voting. Political realities aside, that’s simply part of the pandemic calculus. Does your state have early voting? Do you have to vote at a particular polling place? Do you have a way to get there? Figure it out ahead of time so a last-minute life crisis can’t disrupt your participation in this essential democratic process. Vote411‘s “Explore Voting Information By State” tool can help you get the specifics you need to make your plan.
Absentee or mail-in voting is an option in most places. If you have concerns about COVID-19 or another reason you can’t make it to the polls, that is entirely legitimate, and you have every right to vote by any legal process. DO VOTE, how ever you do it. With that said, some of the recent news about absentee voting has been, uh, discouraging. Absentee ballots can be marked invalid for a variety of reasons, most often because of lateness or signature issues, but it’s worth noting (by which I mean it’s fucking infuriating) that ballots mailed in by Black and Hispanic voters are rejected at higher rates than those mailed in by White voters. It’s serious, and it’s already happening. So if you do choose to mail in your ballot, read the instructions very, very carefully, and follow each one to the letter. If you need help, ASK for it from savvy friends, family or state officials — having your vote count is your right.
One more not-so-minor thing: Who are you voting for? Not the big fish — I mean in all the other races. Do you know who, besides the presidential candidates, is on your ballot? Thoughtful choices at local, state and national levels are greater than the sum of their parts. Even if you don’t find any candidates that perfectly represent your own views, it’s worth considering, as celebrated activist Angela Davis has discussed, who will be most receptive to post-election pressure to hear your concerns. Vote411’s “Find What’s on Your Ballot” tool can be a great way to read up on everything from judges to bond questions. It even helps you create a road map to take with you to the voting booth.
3) We’re in this — make it count
Systemic racism, fascism and climate disaster aren’t going to be solved with a single election. I mean, everyone always says that, but as you’ve probably noticed, we (as an electorate) have short attention spans. So many of our large-scale problems have been built up over generations, and it may be the work of generations to fix them. Change feeds on ever-renewing efforts and vigilant compassion. No one person can do everything all the time, but we can all give thought to doing what is in our power when we are able.
Here are some actions that may be of use before, during and after the 2020 election:
- Like we said in Pyragraph’s Guide to Supercharge Your Vote, talk about voting as much as you can. Right now, be talking about the rules and deadlines your own state and/or states where you have a lot of friends. Use the resources linked above. Use your social media channels for something more useful than selling t-shirts with pumpkin spice puns.
- Participate in campaigns working to get out the vote. A last-minute push can do a lot. Vote Forward uses a strategy of short, handwritten letters targeted at “traditionally underrepresented voters.” Act quickly, letters are going out Oct. 17. Many volunteer opportunities are listed in Daniel’s Guide to Taking Action in the 2020 Election, and I like that he also shows us how to think about our own goals and values and how they might lead us toward work that is personally meaningful. Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight, battling to protect free elections, is another great organization to support.
- Do not let paramilitary bastards fuck with your right to vote. (I cannot believe I have to write that sentence. But that’s where we are.) The Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law “has created fact sheets for all 50 states explaining the laws barring unauthorized private militia groups and what to do if groups of armed individuals are near a polling place or voter registration drive.”
- Speaking of things I can’t believe we have to be talking about, what would you do in the case of a coup? How will you know if we’re in the midst of one? Be prepared for post-election uncertainty, and don’t lose hope or give in. Mail-in ballots take extra time to count and certify, and they could significantly change election-night numbers. Commit now to upholding the integrity of our democracy. Organizations working to help prepare for post-election mobilization, if needed, include Choose Democracy and Protect the Results.
So here we are. I hope this helps. I hope the election goes smoothly and that we get a new President sworn in on January 20 with nary a hiccup. But I do not feel like I can take it for granted. So let’s save democracy by embodying it: let’s know everything we can, do everything we must and prepare thoughtfully for everything we fear.