What Can I Do In Addition to Voting?
Last week I got my vote-by-mail ballot delivered to my house. After researching what was on my ballot, I made my selections and dropped off the ballot at a local dropbox. With two weeks still to go until election day, I found myself thinking about what else I could do in addition to voting. Thinking back on previous election years, I realized that some of my most prominent election season memories don’t directly involve me actually voting. Most of them come from my time volunteering as a poll worker when I was in high school.
I remember one specific instance my first time as a poll worker when an older woman came in to vote. She didn’t appear to speak very much English, and the election worker trying to help her didn’t speak any Spanish. He was trying his best to communicate the steps to the woman using visual cues, but the woman looked confused and frustrated. With her limited English, she said, “it’s ok, I don’t need to vote” and started to walk away. My supervisor saw what was happening and grabbed my attention, knowing that I spoke a little Spanish. I introduced myself to the woman and explained that I could help her understand the process. She seemed hesitant and just wanted to leave, but I took the time to slowly walk her through each step with my limited Spanish skills. She was able to successfully cast her ballot and left with a huge smile on her face. It’s hard to tell who was more proud – her for having voted or me for being able to provide the assistance that allowed her to vote. That one interaction made my 15-hour day of volunteering worth it.
This one story always reminds me that there is so much more we can do to contribute to the election than just voting. Using your voice to vote is crucially important, but if you’re looking to take your leadership one step further, there are several options!
Volunteer as a poll worker – every polling location is reliant on volunteers to staff and run it. Since we are in a pandemic and poll workers tend to be those over the age of 60, many counties are seeing a shortage of poll workers. If there is a shortage in your county and you would like to volunteer to fill it, you can go to www.powerthepolls.org to sign up.
Remind your friends to vote – while you might have the motivation to vote, many people do not. Especially this year, many people feel defeated by the system or are disappointed that their first choice presidential candidate is not on the ballot. Take the time to remind your family and friends the importance of their vote – not just for the president, but for everything else on their ballot too. Encourage them to make a plan to vote (by mail, in person, or early) and as we get closer to November 3rd, follow up with them and make sure they follow through.
Write letters to potential voters – you can extend your influence beyond your family and friends by writing to registered voters – particularly in swing states or areas with historically low voter turnout. Organizations like www.voteforward.org allow you to write letters en masse and send them to communities where they can impact voter turnout.
Participate in a calling campaign – whether it’s a general “get out the vote” campaign or an endorsement for a particular candidate (at any level of government), there are plenty of opportunities to pick up the phone and call potential voters. If you have a particular candidate you support, go to their campaign website to sign up to help with a calling campaign.
Share voter resources – in addition to helping people actually vote, you can help them decide what to vote for. There are plenty of voter guides and resources put out by different political or non-profit organizations to help voters make informed decisions, and with social media, it’s so easy to find and share them. I may not care about how my friend from high school is voting on the propositions in my state, but I may be interested in reading the voter guide that he shared on his Instagram story. Sharing resources that you find useful can help other people make informed decisions.
Drive someone to the polls – while many of us will vote by mail this year, there are plenty of people who will still want or need to travel to a polling place or ballot dropbox, and this can be a barrier to folks who don’t have their own cars. Companies like Uber and Lyft are offering reduced prices on election day rides, but some people may still not be able to afford that, may have long wait times if lots of people are using the apps, or may see it as an inconvenience and excuse to forgo voting. If you have a car and some free time on November 3rd, offer a ride to someone who needs it.
Each one of us has the ability to make a difference, and there are so many ways we can get involved in the election process. While there’s no way to cast more than one ballot, there are plenty of ways to amplify your voice and put your leadership to work. Thomas Jefferson once said, “We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” So find the ways that you want to participate in democracy this election season.
Make yourself an action plan for the last two weeks before election day.
- What steps do you want to take?
- What resources will you need?
- What mini-deadlines can you set for yourself?
*Meet the Author*
Morgan is the Program Coordinator for Leadership Inspirations. He has a B.A. in Integrated Educational Studies and an M.A. in Leadership Development from Chapman University.
Favorite quote: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end” – John Lennon
Fun facts: 1) I once trained my pet goldfish to play basketball 2) When I was little I wanted to be a Disneyland parking attendant 3) I’m a big Justin Timberlake fan