Call, text, canvas, advocate at your workplace, and volunteer to fight voter suppression — here’s where to sign up to help people vote.
Getting out the vote is important in every election. But this year, the stakes are as high as ever when it comes to, well, pretty much every issue that’s festering in our country: racism, climate change, growing inequality, and women’s rights.
The most important things you can do in the next two weeks are make a voting plan and spread the word so others do, too. Here are some ways you can help people vote and ensure everyone gets an equal chance to exercise their constitutional right in the midterms.
The time to get intimately familiar with your state’s voting deadlines is yesterday. Depending on where you live, your first deadline for the election is likely almost here: some states require you to register to vote as early as October 4. However, many states allow you to register in person as late as election day.
If you can’t make it to your polling place on November 8, consider an absentee ballot. All states allow voters who will not be in their home county on election day to vote absentee, along with voters who are elderly, disabled, or have an illness. If you’re interested in this route, find out the latest you can request a mail-in ballot, any restrictions, and the recommended date to mail your ballot back so that you’re not sweating over whether it gets counted. (Track your ballot to be 100 percent sure.)
Early in-person voting is also an option — and it’s a great one if you’re worried about long lines on election day. In many states, early voting starts as soon as October 6. Slate has published an extremely handy guide elaborating on every date and special consideration, state by state.
Of course, many people will still be voting on November 8! Whether you plan to vote in person or not, one concrete way to make sure the day runs smoothly is to find out if your workplace has a good election day policy. In a perfect world, voting would be quick and easy everywhere, but in our world, it can be an hours-long process depending — on where you live. Employers would also let voters take all the time they need, but in our world, companies are not required to do so. The Time to Vote initiative hopes to change that. The movement asks companies to ensure employees vote by giving them the day off or making it a no-meeting day. (Avocado happens to be one of the companies that made this pledge — paying employees while they vote and volunteer on Election Day.)
So you have a voting plan and you’ve confirmed that you’re registered. Time to make sure everyone else in your community gets on board, too. Grassroots, in-person conversations are shown to be most effective in winning votes and increasing voter turnout. And in the weeks leading up to the election, there will be plenty of opportunities to volunteer — especially in swing states.
Seed the Vote is recruiting volunteers for in-person canvassing as well as remote phone banks via Zoom in the key states of Arizona and Pennsylvania. You can also sign up to volunteer with Sister District, which will connect you with campaigns in your area for canvassing and other actions. Find out about ways to contribute in your state or a swing state through Vote Save America; join an action campaign like a postcard party through Stand Up America; phone or text bank with Field Team 6; or sign up for phone banking shifts every Tuesday with the Human Rights Campaign. These are just a handful of national get-out-the-vote options — local campaigns in your area also offer numerous ways to get involved.
As a result of repeated misinformation about widespread voter fraud, many states are experiencing a shortage of volunteer election workers. Recruiters cite harassment and threats as a reason for low volunteer numbers. If you’re able, stand up for democracy and exercise your civic duty by volunteering to work at your local polling station. Your job may include setting up a polling location, explaining the process to voters, checking their registration, and issuing voting materials. Not sure who to contact? Power the Polls, an initiative to recruit poll workers, is a good place to start.
Read more: Why I’m Volunteering To Be a Poll Worker
Voter suppression is expected to be worse than ever this year, compounding the effects of deliberate suppression tactics, which tend to affect voters of color most. It can take all kinds of sneaky forms, like unnecessary voter requirements, inaccessible polls, and purging eligible voters from lists without their knowledge. So what can citizens do about it, aside from donating to organizations taking legal action against large-scale suppression tactics, like the ACLU? (Do that!)
On an individual level, the first thing to do is get familiar with your voting rights and learn signs of voter suppression and intimidation. You can also volunteer to be a sort of watchdog for such red flags with Protect the Vote and keep the numbers they provide on hand in order to call if you encounter issues on voting day. And if you’re in a state with strict voter ID laws, Spread the Vote will connect you with your local chapter to help residents get proper identification.
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