The election is just weeks away, and we’re grateful to Dr. Pat Salber for giving us this opportunity to address you directly. As physicians concerned about the health of the public, we know that the choices we all make for our leaders—at the federal, state, and local levels—have a direct impact on our lives. That’s why we are providing you with resources to help you get out (and protect) the vote.
Because of the critical nature of this election, we’ve boiled down all the wisdom about how to encourage voter participation into 5 big steps. And, we have included a list of active links to trusted resources that will help you do the work. Just scroll down until you get to a step you haven’t taken – and start there!
STEP 1: VOTE – AND VOTE EARLY
The essential feature of a democracy is that every citizen has the right to vote – and uses it. Have you seen the “Hamilton” cast video?
When We All Vote and many other non-partisan, nonprofit groups make the case and provide essential information about how, when, and where to vote.
Earlier this summer, the message was to vote. Now, it is to vote early, either in person or by dropping off a mail-in ballot.
STEP 2: GET OUT THE VOTE
Persuade at least 3 other people who aren’t sure they’re going to vote that they should. Tell them why. Then get them to tell you how and when they plan to vote. Be sure to ask if they need help.
Only 60% of people who register to vote actually vote, so this is critical. Hearing directly from a friend, family member or someone they respect is the best way to activate hesitant voters.
When you’ve done that, GOTV (GET OUT THE VOTE) AT SCALE! Phone bank, text bank, or send postcards and letters. One of our friends has sent 60,000 texts so far, and is still plugging away!
STEP 3: VOLUNTEER FOR AN ELECTION VOTER ASSISTANCE HOTLINE
In many places, voting is now more complicated than in the past. Rules and procedures have changed, in part, because of COVID 19. Unfounded claims about voting by mail have raised voter concerns, while unprecedented numbers of voters are requesting mail-in ballots.
Voter assistance hotlines are an important means of allaying voter concerns and providing practical information. The best organizations provide short online training sessions for specific states. They will arm you with well-organized information down to the county and polling station level.
STEP 4: RECRUIT A LAWYER FOR VOTER PROTECTION EFFORTS
To counter voter suppression efforts and provide rapid legal advice and assistance for voters and for poll watchers, join with efforts to recruit lawyers, paralegals, and other experts for voter protection. If you have these skills, volunteer, please!
STEP 5: IF YOU HAVE EMPLOYEES, ENCOURAGE THEM TO VOTE – AND ESPECIALLY, TO VOTE EARLY. THEN MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM
Many employers began by offering release time for employees to vote on election day. As the importance of voting early has emerged, more employers are offering release time for early voting. Some are even providing time for employees to volunteer for voter assistance and voter protection programs.
Now, jump in – and if you’re already supporting this election, double down on your efforts!
Where should you begin?
Where should you begin? Let us start by saying there is no bad option. The best course is what gets you fired up – so fired up that you will
- jump in immediately
- make a stretch commitment
- bring in your friends
- double down in the critical days ahead.
Here is a shortlist of the wide variety of ways to support participation in this election.
Bipartisan or non-profit organizations are *starred. (And credit to Margaret Laws, our compatriot in preparing this list of resources!)
General resources – lots of great info
When We All Vote*
Flip the Vote
Get out the vote and protect the vote
This is painless and so efficient. You can do it from your phone but it’s easier from a laptop. The training takes < 20 minutes and the technology is turnkey.
Also, it feels great to provide critical guidance like “don’t forget you’ll need a witness when completing your absentee ballot” and “please identify 3 friends you’ll remind to get registered this weekend”. In one hour you can reach thousands of voters.
Here are some links to get you started:
Action Network GOTV phone texting campaign*
Committee to Flip Blue
Ballotpedia – Early voting dates 2020
Recruit staff for the polls, ensure adequate PPE, or sign up to work as a poll watcher*
Power the Polls*
Poll observers monitor outside polling locations for 6-8 hour shifts each day. They serve as eyes and ears to report on anything that threatens vote, including:
- long lines to
- late openings to
- voter misinformation to
- suppressive or intimidating behavior.
You do not need to be a lawyer.
Observers are needed as soon as polls open in each state – and needs are especially dire in IA, FL, OH, and NH.
Here is a link to the Biden Voter Protection Program
And, here are poll watcher requirements, state by state*
Nearly 85% of Americans can vote by mail – make sure they know how to do it
NBC News guide to planning your vote – state by state*
Poll worker recruitment calls to younger folks who’ve served in the past
The shortage of poll workers is at crisis levels and, if unresolved, will result in poll closings, misinformation, and long lines — particularly for voters of color.
Pick your state: WI, MI, or NC
Staff voter assistance hotlines
There is so much voter confusion in this crazy election year (see: pandemic, suppression, misinformation). One of us (CC) staffs a hotline run by the non-partisan Election Protection coalition and one run by the Wisconsin Democratic Party.
You can do the same by contacting Biden’s campaign (which will plug you into the swing state of your choice) (no legal background required) or by contacting Election Protection* (lawyers only, although you need not be actively practicing).
The shifts are 3-4 hours long but you get significant downtime in between calls. (That will not be the case on November 3!) Training and a cheat sheet are provided and a captain will back you up if you’re stumped.
While raging at the news, write letters as part of The Big Send‘s* efforts to prod 15 million infrequent, Democratic-leaning voters in swing states. It’s very easy and very cathartic.
These will be mailed en masse on October 17. This is early enough to surmount USPS delays, late enough to maximize their effectiveness in prompting turnout.
For teens and students: Campus Vote* and Rock the Vote*
For women: She the People*
Here are a few lesser-known but critical targets for donations:
“Ballot-curing: making sure that defective ballots are corrected
Mail-in voting will reach historic levels this election. However, a significant percentage of those mailed-in ballots are at risk of being rejected.
America Votes* is coordinating a rigorous multi-state program to identify voters whose ballots are problematic. The then contact them, and help them “cure” the problem pursuant to state rules that. are varied and complex.
Yes, this is expensive on a cost per vote basis. But, unlike many last-stretch voting programs, we know this will help incrementally. Further, it could be decisive in the razor-thin election scenarios we anticipate in certain states.
Give here. (And you can also contribute here to ballot-curing calls to NC Democrats who’ve already voted by mail, and are at risk of having their ballots rejected. They’re often unaware and highly motivated to fix their ballots.
Insurance for the House
In the unlikely-but-far-from-impossible event of an Electoral College tie, the House of Representatives would choose our next president. Each state would cast one vote. That vote would be determined by the party in control.
Republicans now hold the majority in 26 states. However, the newly-elected House will cast the deciding vote. 8 House victories would give Democrats the majority needed to elect Biden.
Give and your contribution will be split among those 8 candidates, all outstanding leaders in their own right and slugging it out in very tight races.
Combatting Pennsylvania’s “naked ballot” problem*
PA is now arguably the most important state in the presidential election. This will be PA’s first large-scale vote-by-mail election. Voter confusion is rife.
Further, a state law that requires the discarding of ballots not returned in a special secrecy envelope–the so-called “naked ballot law”–threatens to invalidate over 100,000 votes. The vast majority of them are expected to be from Democratic voters.
The Voter Project PA, a well-respected 501(c)3 voter education group, will be running a broadcast TV campaign to educate voters on the four steps required to return a valid ballot (including using the secrecy envelope).
Make your tax-deductible contribution here via their funding partner, Keystone Research, and indicate that your gift is for The Voter Project Fund.
Here’s a high-leverage way for you to make a difference in a place with outsized impact. In Montana, native communities are battling for voting rights.
Also, the outcome of Steve Bullock’s race could very well determine control of the Senate. Bullock’s fate will likely depend on how many Native American voters are able to cast their ballots. ~80% of Native Americans tend to vote Democratic.
The same is true for Democrat Kathleen Williams. She is running to flip Montana’s single House seat. She is one of our 8 “break the Electoral College tie” candidates, above.
The pandemic has not only devastated Montana’s seven reservations, it has made voter registration nearly impossible. You can make a donation here.
We can rest after we win. We must win it all. Leave it all on the field.