It is undeniable: 2020 will be the most important election of our lifetimes. But you probably didn’t need me to remind you of that.
Lately, there has been a surge of voices reminding people how important it is to vote. Athletes are opening up their stadiums as polling places. Brands are airing hundreds of ads to promote voting. And millions of Americans are requesting their absentee ballots right now, preparing to vote by mail ahead of November.
There is also a greater recognition of voter suppression and misinformation this election — even though disenfranchisement of minority and young voters existed for decades before 2020.
This awareness, this movement, this passion for voting, is vital to our democracy. But it is important to recognize how we got here. Why do we have to fight so hard to get our vote to count? To practice our fundamental right?
Our next Vice President, Kamala Harris, recently answered this very question:
“Why do you think they don’t want us to vote? Why are they trying to stop us from voting? They know when we vote things change. When we vote, we have the ability through our voice connected with our vote, to say, ‘We are present, we matter, we will be seen, we will be heard and you will be accountable to us.’”
Today, I encourage you to make a plan to ensure your voice is heard. It won’t be as easy as it should be, but here are the steps you need to take:
- Register to vote. Today, right now. Even if you think you are already registered, open a new tab and check your registration status.
- Decide how you’re going to vote. Vote by mail or wait in line on Nov. 3? Drop box or in-person absentee? There are many different ways to cast a ballot, and those options can vary by state, city or sometimes even by county. Look at the different options available to you and decide now how you plan to vote. Make sure to read the “Voting Process Explained” series here on Democracy Docket for more detailed information about each option.
- Research all the candidates on your ballot. The 2020 election will not only decide who is in the White House, but will also determine who controls state legislatures, district attorney offices and city councils across the country. If you are concerned about police reform, you must research the policies of all down-ballot candidates before you cast your vote. If you plan to vote in person, contact your local election administrator for an official sample ballot. You can also get educated on candidates’ values through your local civil rights group.
- If you can, vote early. It cannot be overstated how unusual the election this year will be. COVID-19 combined with the Republicans’ efforts to confuse voters and sow chaos have made it more important than ever to get your ballot in before Election Day. If your state has the option, plan to cast your ballot before November.
Repeat these steps to your family and friends. If one thing is certain in 2020, it is that we will not be able to make change unless we lift up every voice. Share resources on your Twitter or Instagram. Make a plan to go vote early with your neighbors. Do whatever you can to make sure all the voices in your community count.
We need to go beyond encouraging people to vote, because this election is so much more than casting one ballot. This November, we will be heard.
Aloe Blacc is a Grammy Award-nominated singer, songwriter and activist.