When it comes to presidential elections, Americans have persevered through many challenges. They succeeded at holding an election in 1864, during the Civil War, in a divided nation. They succeeded in 1932, as they suffered the economic devastation of the Great Depression. Now, U.S. citizens are facing the 2020 presidential election. On November 3, it will be held amid a pandemic that has already claimed almost 200,000 lives.
Voting officials and political leaders for several months have heeded the warning. To hold a general election this fall will not be easy. In addition to taking the necessary steps to ensure your vote is cast and counted, there are other ways to get involved in this election season.
Poll Workers Wanted
Because of public health concerns during the pandemic, there has been a nationwide push for mail-in voting. However, voting precincts will be open for those who are not able to cast ballots via the mail-in option. As they have done consistently over the years, local officials are asking for citizens to step up to serve as poll workers on election day.
If you’ve visited a U.S. voting precinct, you should be familiar with poll workers. Some are charged with bringing supplies to the polling places, hanging the signs to mark the locations and greeting you at the door with a smile, as you sign in. More are tasked with verifying voter registration, issuing ballots, and helping everyone to move smoothly through the voting process. Finally, some assist you at the exit, helping you turn in your ballot before sending you on your way with an “I Voted’’ sticker.
Traditionally, poll workers are seniors. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 58 percent of poll workers in the 2018 general election were over 60 years old. Therefore, in this election, since age is linked to a higher risk for complications with COVID-19, there is an extreme need for new, younger helpers to step forward and offer assistance to their local Supervisor of Elections office.
Becoming a poll worker is easy, and it’s an excellent way to make some extra money. Your country needs you! The eligibility requirements, compensation, and time commitments vary depending upon where you live. Your state and county election officials should have all the information you need to sign up. However, don’t delay because this important job as a poll worker may require some training before election day.
Other Ways To Get Out The Vote
In the weeks leading up to the election, some citizens devote time to studying political races and are prepared to vote. However, not everyone is self-informed and ready. This is where you have another opportunity to help. Here are some tips on how to assist others in becoming successful, informed voters:
- Start with your family and friends. Make sure they register to vote and if they are already registered, make sure their voter registration is up to date. If they’ve moved since the last time they voted, did they notify the voter registrar’s office? Have they updated their driver’s license with their new address? Encourage them to decide now whether they plan to vote in person or by mail.
- Use targeted phone calls and social media outreach to get others to vote. Although connecting in person is the most effective way to inspire others, traditional efforts like door-to-door canvassing are not advised with the pandemic. Connect with activists in your community to get involved with phone and text banks.
- Help educate other voters. The more voters know about the candidates we elect – and where they stand on important issues – the more likely we are to choose leaders whose views align with our own. This is the time to start direct conversations about specific voter issues and help people to understand what’s at stake. You can download head-to-head voter guide templates to assess candidates’ positions on such issues as economic security, education, civil rights, and more.
- Set up a political panel with experts on a digital platform for your community, or a smaller conversation within your social network, to help educate others on where candidates stand on your region’s issues. Contact your local political campaign offices for support to do this.
- Encourage others to vote early. If you have early voting sites in your community, make a plan with your friends, co-workers or classmates to head over to the early voting site together.
- Do you have a car? Offer to drive someone to the polls. For some, exercising their right to vote is never easy. Not everyone has access to transportation, and not everyone will have the ability to successfully vote by mail. It is important to keep in mind because of Covid-19, transportation to the polls must be thought out and planned in advance.
The Cochran Firm Texas can’t stress enough the overall importance of voting. It’s not just about the presidential election. It is vital to vote at the state and local levels too. Elections decide so many things. By voting, you help choose the people who create the laws and make decisions about your rights. No matter what your party affiliation is, whether you vote by mail or in person, just make sure you do it. Let your voice be heard. Get out the vote!
Johnelle is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She attended the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff where she received her BA in Criminal Justice and her MS in Addiction Studies. After graduate school, Johnelle went to work for the Dallas County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (Adult Probation). She worked in several capacities in that department including as a Felony Court officer, Field Officer, and as a Specialty Court officer. After 13 years of service at CSCD, Johnelle enrolled in the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law where she earned her Juris Doctorate with high honors and was admitted to the Texas State Bar in 2019. Her areas of practice include Family Law, Estate Planning, Wills and Guardianship.