VOTER REGISTRATION, VOTING, and GETTING OUT THE VOTE Resources & Links
Voting is fundamental to democracy and a privilege in America. Many prior generations fought hard for suffrage, and to ensure our fundamental, democratic right remains in place today. Still, many people are disenfranchised, both explicitly by law and implicitly by discrimination, intimidation, or placing unreasonable requirements on voter registration or voting. Accounting for new complications with COVID-19, protests, damaging storms, and economic contraction, the prospects for voting become even more challenged.
There are also many among us who can easily vote, but don’t. This is mainly due to apathy, inattention, or lack of planning. According to the Environmental Voter Project, for instance, an estimated 10 to 15 million Americans who self-identify as environmentalists do not vote regularly or have never voted despite their claims or intentions otherwise.
Now is the time for Americans to exercise our right to vote, and help others do the same. Whether you are a concerned citizen or an organizational leader, you can help others exercise their right to vote. Every vote counts, including and most importantly your own. Please vote.
This guide is meant to serve as a resource for voting in U.S. federal, state, and local elections. Please follow these steps, and use and share these resources, to ensure your vote is counted and so are the votes of others around you.
1. Verify your registration. Even if you already registered to vote, make sure that you are registered in the jurisdiction where you are planning to vote. Many states have recently purged their voter rolls! Take 2 minutes TODAY to check your voter registration status.
- Go to Vote.org to check the status of your registration.
2. Know your deadlines and eligibility. This includes knowing the last day to register to vote, the last day to request an absentee ballot, when and where early voting opens, identification requirements, poll opening/closing times, and more. 2020 is a presidential election year, but many states hold elections for governor and other local offices in different years. Know your state’s schedule and make sure you vote this year AND in “off-year” elections in your state. You can find this information by state or by topic. Start NOW, and make your plans to vote.
- For information by state: Vote411.org (League of Women Voters) has all the information you need regarding deadlines and laws, organized by state (scroll down to see the map and click on a state, e.g., https://www.vote411.org/california).
- For information by topic: go to Ballotpedia’s “About Voting” tabs, e.g., https://www.ballotpedia.org/Online_voter_registration, https://www.ballotpedia.org/Early_voting.
3. Register to vote, and consider voting by mail where possible. Most states offer the ability to register to vote by filling out forms online. And, whether you are already registered or just registering today, consider the vote by mail option as a safe and healthy way to exercise your right, which may also help reduce the impact of voter suppression efforts. State rules vary regarding vote-by-mail or absentee ballot options (the difference between the two is articulated here). Either way, exercising your right to vote by mail involves a few extra steps and takes careful planning. So, start TODAY.
- Register to vote here.
- Check to see if mail-in voting is offered in your state. Note: deadlines for the primaries started as early as June 3rd!
- Make it easy, by requesting an absentee ballot here, from Vote.org.
- Review this publication on vote by mail, prepared by NAACP and LCV.
4. Get Out The Vote (GOTV) and help protect people’s right to vote. There are several resources to help you GOTV. These include helping others register to vote, providing information on voting rights and how to vote, and increasing voter turnout. Just as these resources are shared with you, YOU, too, can share them with others.**
- Know your voting rights. People have died for the right to vote. Spread the word. 866ourvote.org and 866-OUR-VOTE also have information on election protection. Stay up to date on anti-suppression efforts.
- For offline voter registration go to FairElectionsCenter.org for state-specific guidelines. Here are tips for using online registration at community events.
- Refer to Voteriders.org, a national organization assisting people in getting identification documents to help them make sure they can vote.
- Vote.org offers free tools that you can use to help others verify, register, request absentee ballots, and more. They even offer tools to embed these functions into your own website, many we have shared in this post. To note: information submitted by potential voters is NOT shared with you.
- VotoLatino.org is focused on educating and empowering a new generation of Latinx voters, as well as creating a more robust and inclusive democracy.
- RockTheVote offers voter registration and other resources to increase the turnout of young adults.
- Turbovote.org offers some of the tools as Vote.org and has options in Spanish.
- Promote National Voter Registration Day: September 22.
- Register to be a local poll monitor. Many people who usually monitor polls are older adults who may have to stay home this year for their own safety due to COVID-19.
- HealthyVoting.org helps you find healthy, secure, and safe ways to cast your ballot.
- Alliance for Justice’s advocacy resource, The Rules of the Game A Guide to Election-Related Activities for 501(c)(3) Organizations, provides nonprofit organizations with guidance on how to be active during election years.
- And, don’t forget to get the word out via social media, social functions, and good old fashioned yard signs.
Make a plan for when and how you are going to cast your ballot in your federal, state, and local elections. Making a plan (from politicalcharge.org) includes:
- PREPARE: Know what is on your ballot, and consider candidates’ platforms, statements, records, and plans. See what’s on your ballot, Vote411.org. Children’s Environmental Health Network has developed voter guidance on 5 key children’s environmental health issues, including clean air and climate change.
- WHEN: When will you vote? You may be able to vote early or by absentee ballot. Perhaps you’re in a state with all-mail ballots. If you’re going to vote in person on Election Day, look at your schedule for the day. Decide what time you will go to the polls. Set a reminder on your phone.
- WHERE: Where is your polling location or ballot dropbox? It may have changed since the last time you voted. Check here to find your polling place.
- HOW: How will you get there? Are you driving or do you need a ride? Are there any friends or neighbors that you can go with? Taking a friend with you increases the chances you’ll both definitely vote.
Share these #GOTV Resources and Links on Social Media!
Click HERE for the Social Toolkit
* ecoAmerica would like to thank RL Miller for her work to source a significant amount of these resources, and Vote.org for their work to simplify political engagement, increase voter turnout, and strengthen American democracy.
** Anyone is free to share any of the information provided in this post, including 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.