election checklist, week five.

August 24, 2020

We have 71 days until the 2020 election in the US. That’s 10 weeks during which I’ll be trying my damnedest to get leaders elected who will move the dial toward equity, inclusion, and progressive policies that will do the least harm and the greatest good.

I love lists. I love checking things off of lists. I’d hazard the guess that lots of folks reading this do, too. So, every Monday until November, I’ll be listing one specific action to take in preparation of the election. Electoral politics won’t solve everything, but voting is a tool in the box and it needs to be sharpened, oiled, and ready for action.

Week Five: Look past the presidency.

When the president is such a dangerous and blustering buffoon, it can be hard to look away. We need to vote him out of office, no doubt, but there are a whole slew of other people vying for political power in the November election and our votes for (or against) those people matter, too. Over the weekend, the folks at Rally & Rise put out a great overview of other races that we should also focus our attention on. Here are the main takeaways:

+ Very local city and town elections for mayors, city council members, district attorneys, sheriffs, and school boards matter. These elected officials have the most direct impact on issues of community racial and criminal justice, including policing and schooling. Start familiarizing yourself with these races now to see if change is possible where you are and to see what you can do to rally neighbors, friends, and family around folks committed to progressive politics.

+ State legislatures don’t get the attention of national elections, but we can’t overlook them. In addition to passing state-level bills, State legislatures oversee redistricting which directly affects how folks are represented in local and national elections. State legislatures in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin could all shift power to Democrats this year. Even if you don’t live in those places, consider volunteering with Sister District to help mobilize voters who do!

+ Don’t forget Congress! The US House of Representatives currently has a Democratic majority, but every single representative is up for re-election and we can’t take anything for granted. Eighteen house seats in districts in Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas are currently considered toss-ups! In the US Senate, current Republican seats in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Montana, and North Carolina are considered flippable. Do you live in one of these places? Does your great Aunt or your college roommate or your old summer camp penpal? Sister District typically focuses on the state legislature races mentioned above, but this year they’re expanding their work and applying the same strategy beyond state races. Sign up to volunteer in phone banking or postcarding campaigns.

Thanks to Rally & Rise for the reminder to think beyond the presidency. Rally & Rise is a New York based activist organization that formed in 2016 as a response to the US election and with a goal of turning New York into “a true blue state.” This fall, they’re helping folks across the country gear up for the November elections—presidential and otherwise—with their #NoRegretsNovember campaign. They’re sending out monthly workbooks aimed at getting folks ready to organize, activate, and make sure that come November they have no regrets. Sign up for their emails to learn more!


And don’t forget:

Check your registration.

+ Make a voting plan.

Send some postcards.

Complete the Census.

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  • Reply Bailey August 24, 2020 at 5:22 pm

    Hell yeah for local elections! I live in a small city in the Midwest, and I love participating in the local political process. Another benefit to being more involved locally: your city and state-wide elected representatives are waaaay more likely to actually get back to you about an issue than the folks in Washington! Earlier this year, I struggled for months to sign up for unemployment (I’m self-employed), and was hitting a wall with every attempt. I called my reps in the state legislature and they were able to advocate on my behalf and resolve the issue. Three cheers for local civics!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 24, 2020 at 8:14 pm

      Yes!!! So glad to hear this story!

  • Reply Megan August 24, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    So important!!! Thank you for shouting out and also the reminder, even the “littlest” elections can create large impact.

  • Reply Margaret August 25, 2020 at 10:47 am

    My thing to do this week: fill out and send in my request for an absentee ballot. I’ll be 65 by November, so even in bright red Indiana it won’t be an issue.
    And a Hell Yes to the down-ballot races. In 2018 my Dem City Council candidate lost by TWO VOTES, which made a GOP majority–we have a Dem mayor; it’s a college town.

  • Reply Leslie August 25, 2020 at 9:39 pm

    Yes, local elections!!!!! School board elections are typically ignored, but anyone in contact with school systems this year knows how vital it is to have people with good judgement and critical thinking skills in those seats.

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