There are a lot of reasons to feel disenchanted with the democratic process these days, to say nothing of the folks in office. It’s understandable to feel angry, or to feel like voting won’t change anything, or to believe the system’s rigged or patently unfair or antiquated or deliberately unjust. But on November 6, there’s a chance, at least, to get folks doing a maximum of harm out of office, and folks committed to doing some good into office.
We need to vote. We need to ask our friends and family and neighbors to vote. We need to help folks get to the polls. We need to make sure they’re allowed to vote once there.
We need to have difficult personal conversations with friends or family or perfect strangers about why voting for certain candidates might be against the best interests of the great majority of people and the planet that we live on.
I won’t pretend this stuff isn’t messy, but for a moment, let’s just imagine a peaceful Election Day morning:
A be-ribboned jacket in case of inclement weather.
An extra-large drawing pad for last-minute lawn signs.
Reportedly comfy flats for getting to your polling place.
A little pocket for everything you need to get there (plus any notes you need to take along the way).
A vial of rose glycerite for calming jitters.
A morning multi-vitamin for extra support.
A refreshing tea for good spirits.
A trusty lip balm.
A watch for getting to the polls in time.
A gingham blouse for unseasonable November temperatures.
In an effort to ground all of this make-believing in something a bit more down to earth—and very much more urgent—here are four things to do to ahead of Election Day:
To make sure you’re registered: Check your registration at When We All Vote. If you’re not registered yet, there are still lots of states where you can do so. Here’s a complete list of voter registration deadlines from the New York Times. Only 58% percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election. Let’s do something to raise that number.
To shift control of the senate: Enter your zip code at Swing Left and see an immediate list of folks nearby who you can help win seats in an effort to shift control of the senate to public servants working toward more progressive goals. (Then put on a pair of comfy flats and start canvassing.)
To vote for justice: Mass incarceration and our country’s criminal justice system unfairly targets and impacts people of color, leading to further marginalization of black and brown people and starker inequities across communities. Head to Vote Smart Justice to learn which candidates are pledging to end money bail, extreme sentencing, discrimination post-release, unfair prosecutorial practices, and abusive policing.
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