On Tuesday, November 3, millions of Americans will cast their votes in polling stations across the country. Although you have to be 18 or older to fill out a ballot, there’s no age requirement when it comes to making a difference in the election.
Whether you’re passionate about a cause or a candidate, time is one of the most valuable resources you can give to a campaign, even if you only have an hour to spare. Read on to discover some of the ways you can get involved so that you can face Election Day with the knowledge that—whatever the outcome—you turned your beliefs into actions.
Campaigns need as many hands as they get. If there’s a candidate that excites you or a proposition you care deeply about, sign up to help. You can pick the times and tasks that work for you so that volunteering fits into your schedule. And the closer it gets to Election Day, the more there is to do.
An hour is plenty of time to address mailings, write postcards to registered voters, or even take a shift canvassing for a candidate. (Hint: If you’re canvassing, make sure you’re prepared by loading up a durable bag or backpack with snacks, water, and any fliers you’ll be handing out.)
If you have more time, consider volunteering at an event—campaigns often need help managing the crowds before, during, and after gatherings. You might also consider joining a phone banking session. Training usually doesn’t take long and can sometimes be done online. Then it’s just a matter of getting a few friends together to make as many calls as you can while using a script provided by the campaign.
2. Get Out the Vote
Only about 56 percent of eligible Americans voted in the 2016 election. The U.S.’s low voter turnout is one of the reasons why phone banking scripts often involve walking potential voters through their plan for Election Day, including when and where they’ll vote, and how they’ll get to their polling stations. Making a voting plan can increase the likelihood that someone who intends to vote follows through. You can help the people around you make a plan. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t know where their polling place is, check out Vote.org’s locator.
Or, maybe you have more time to give and are passionate about increasing voter turnout. National Voter Registration Day, which is on September 22, 2020, is a great time to volunteer. Fill out this online form to find out how you can help register voters or use social media to spread the word come September.
3. Work the Poll Stations
Since you’re not voting, you may wonder if there’s anything you can do on Election Day. Although it’s illegal to campaign within polling stations, you can volunteer to canvas outside the buffer zone. This is a great option if you need a flexible time commitment.
Another alternative is to work at your local polling station. You can check here to find out if you’re eligible to be a student election assistant or a poll worker. Most states require poll workers to be 18 or older, but in some states the age limit is as low as 16 or 17. Not only will you be doing your bit to safeguard democracy, but you’ll also be much more familiar with how polling stations work when it’s finally your turn to cast your ballot.
No one knows what the results of the 2020 election will be. But even if you can’t vote, you can have an impact. How will you make sure your voice is heard?
By: Jessen O’Brien