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This election is in peril. Here’s how to volunteer to support voting rights virtually

Cathy Reisenwitz

by Cathy Reisenwitz on August 4, 2020

According to a recent report from nonpartisan advocacy organization MapLight, this election may be one of the most divisive and contentious in American history. States are likely unprepared to handle an unprecedented volume of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic. President Trump has claimed and will likely to continue to claim that Democrats will rig the election unless people vote in-person and may contest the results regardless of how people vote.

Here are three ways you can volunteer to support voting rights right from your desk.

1. Share how and when to vote

During the 2016 election cycle, disinformation campaigners shared inaccurate information on how and when to vote. Mail-in voting is safest, so encourage that where possible. Share this tool that makes it easy to request your mail-in ballot no matter where you live.

Another way to increase voter turnout is to look up how and when to vote in your city and state and share that information widely.

The US Postal Service is urging voters to request their mail-in ballots by October 19th, at least 15 days before Election Day, November 3rd. States discarded thousands of ballots in the primaries due to signature errors, delivery delays, and sealing issues so some are recommending voters hand-deliver their ballot to their pickup point if possible. Make sure your ballot is signed and sealed correctly,

Your pickup point, hours of operation, and more may change due to coronavirus and local regulations, so keep looking it up and sharing as election day approaches.

To further spread the information on how to vote, you may want to host a virtual letter writing or virtual house party. You can also call potential voters or text them to let them know how to vote.

2. Pressure your elected officials to protect election integrity

Columnist Jennifer Rubin recommends asking your elected reps to improve ballot access. Some states disenfranchise voters over missing hyphens, throwing away ballots where the multiple required signatures don’t match exactly. Updating ID, sealing, and signature requirements in light of COVID-19 and increased voting by mail can extend voting rights.

Instead of tossing mail ballots, ask your elected reps to effectively respond to a challenged ballot. Email your Secretary of State asking them to publish your state’s laws for vote-counting and alert the public to the timeline for certifying elections.

If you see a social media post about election fraud, verify the information before sharing it. Same goes for information about where, when, and how to vote.

3. Give money to voting rights orgs

The Brennan Center for Justice fights restrictive voting policies like the ones mentioned above that make it harder to vote and promotes initiatives to protect and modernize elections such as automatic voter registration and election security measures. Learn more about how you can support their mission to ensure every American can vote and have their vote counted.

Another org challenging the aforementioned arbitrary, capricious mail-in voter laws is the League of Women Voters. This group is suing states that disproportionately disenfranchise young and minority voters. Last week, they filed a lawsuit against New York to give voters the opportunity to correct errors and deficiencies with their ballot before the state throws it away.

After the election

There are many ways to volunteer your skills for worthy causes from home. Whether you’re a writer, designer, web developer, or product manager, there’s a non-profit, advocacy organization, or mission-driven company that needs your help. And as mentioned in Your tech job just laid you off. Now what? and Are software engineers recession-proof?, volunteering is a great way to keep learning and growing your skills. Catch a Fire is an org dedicated to connecting talented individuals with causes and orgs that need their skills.

To support social justice at your organization, check out Five moves that actually increase diversity, equity, and inclusion. And to support social justice more broadly, read 3 ways tech workers can support police reform. If you’re not sure which causes are nearest and dearest to you, The top 5 most important ethical issues facing tech and 5 people to follow in tethics (tech ethics) may help you introduce you to new problems to solve.

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz is Head of Content at Clockwise where she oversees the Clockwise Blog and The Minutes Newsletter. She has covered business software for six years and has been published in Newsweek, Forbes, the Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications.

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