Now, more than ever, every intention, every voice, every action, and every vote matters. Get in touch with your true nature, and vote like your community, people, and planet depend on it. Here’s our weekly round-up of important voting FYIs.
WEEK 7: NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION DAY
September 22 is #NationalVoterRegistrationDay, so we’d be doing everyone a disservice if we didn’t focus this week’s topic all around registering to vote. For the most part, you’re eligible to vote in U.S. elections if you:
- • Are a U.S. citizen
- • Meet your state’s residency requirements
- • Are 18+ years old (BTW, in most states you can register to vote before you turn 18 if you’ll be 18 by Election Day)
- •Are registered to vote by your state’s registration deadline
Each state has its own fine print so make sure you check your state’s election office website, but if it sounds like you are eligible then hop on that registration train! First stop: The General Election on November 3rd.
WEEK 6: THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE
The electoral college is made up of 538 electors from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Each state has a certain number of electors based on population — California has almost 40 million people and 55 electoral votes, for instance, while Wyoming has 579,00 people and 3 electoral votes. To win the presidency, a candidate must win at least 270 votes, the majority of the electoral votes.
Electoral Vote vs. Popular Vote
The popular vote is the number of individual votes cast for a candidate — In 2016 Hillary Clinton won the popular vote with 65,845,063 votes — 2.9 million more than Donald Trump. BUT individual votes don’t elect the president — electoral votes do. It’s a winner takes all system, not majority rules.
Winner Takes All
When you vote, you are voting for where your state’s electoral votes will go. For example, in 2012 4 million Californians voted for Mitt Romney, but Barack Obama had more votes, so her took all 55 electoral votes. When it comes to states, winner takes all.
The winner takes all approach is what creates the two party system: voters can’t afford to waste their vote, so they stop voting for people who reflect their values and start voting for candidates they think can win…. So we end up with a 2 party system.
WEEK 5: VOTE FOR THE PLANET
November 3rd is the new Earth Day. Because whatever side of the political spectrum you fall on, the environment matters — clean air, running water, and healthy forests should be a priority for all Earth dwellers (that’s you). And since we live in a democracy where we elect people to make decisions on our behalf, voting for candidates committed to environmental causes matters, too.
WHAT ABOUT THE EPA?
The Environmental Protection Agency is a branch of the US government tasked with environmental protection matters; its administrator is nominated by the President and confirmed by a vote in the Senate (2 positions you can vote for). Since 2017, the EPA has set out to reverse over 100 environmental rules — and guess who’s challenging them? State, county, and city governments (yep, more positions you vote for).
THE FUTURE STEWARDS
18 million+ youth are eligible to vote in the 2020 November elections, but historically only 1 in 5 turn out to vote. So if you know any 18-25 year olds, encourage them to register and vote like their future depends on it — because it sure does.
WEEK 4: LOCAL VOTING 101
Think global, ACT LOCAL. As exciting and important as national elections are, your local elections typically have a more immediate impact on your day to day life. Here’s a quick breakdown on what you might see on your local ballot on November 3rd.
Everyone lives in a county so you’ll definitely see some of these on your ballot. Counties encompass a number of neighboring towns (Bridges of Madison COUNTY, anyone?), and each county has a central infrastructure and administration that takes care of things like land and water usage, emergency response, and the budget. Here are some of the elected positions at the county:
Board of Supervisors – 5 regional members who oversee all county operations and manage the budget
County Auditor – Oversees the county’s finances
County Engineer – Responsible for transportation and public works
County Sheriff – Oversees law enforcement and often responsible for managing county jails and security
– Seeks justice in criminal cases, works to prevent crime, and serves to hold law enforcement institutions accountable (!) You can learn more about DAs here.
Within counties, cities and townships are comprised of districts that represent your district and your neighborhood (like The Hunger Games, but real). Your district will dictate which candidates are on your ballot (so if you don’t live within the city limits, the Mayor likely won’t be on your ballot). Here are some of the elected positions at the district level:
Mayor – Head of the municipal government and oversees all city services and approve/veto city legislation.
City Council – The primary legislative body with council members who represent each city district; the city council also appoints boards and commissions for various public works
School Board – Supervises the education system and creates policies to improve schools; made up of council members who represent each district
Water Board – Oversees the water usage, sources and rates of water in a certain district
WEEK 3: GET OUT THE VOTE
Here’s the deal: there are millions of eligible voters who don’t know when the election is (Tuesday, November 3rd), where to vote (depends on your address), or what they need to vote (depends on your state). Now that YOU know, here are some ways to spread the word and get out the vote.
WORK THE POLLS
America is in the midst of a nationwide poll worker shortage. Most poll workers are over 60, and due to COVID, fewer are signing up for the job. In-person polling locations will require at least a million workers and volunteers, so it’s all hands on deck. The Toads are getting the day off to volunteer, so if you can, join us. Learn more here.
If you like a candidate, volunteer to phone bank for a few hours (or you can look for a text banking option if you’re feeling phone-shy). From the comfort of your own couch, you’ll typically call people who’ve been identified as supporters (public voting records are useful like that!) and you’ll run through a script to help them visualize their vote…
Are you planning on voting early?
What day will you vote?
How are you getting to the polling place?
Do you need a ride to the polls?
What time of day are you going to vote?
Will you be voting before or after work?
TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS
If phone banking is intimidating, simply run through that same set of questions with your friends and family. Root out the excuses and hold them (gently) accountable
WEEK 2: WOMEN’S RIGHT TO VOTE
Even though 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing and protecting women’s right to vote, many American women of color didn’t get true voting protections until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. So we like to think of voting as a great way to say “thanks” to the pioneers who took up the cause.
In 2020, 127 women serve in the U.S. Congress (23.7%), and hold 28.9% of statewide elective executive offices across the country. Whether your interest is running for national or local office, working on campaigns, or leadership training, we say, ‘the more the merrier’ when it comes to women stepping up in politics. Here’s an awesome list of resources we found for women looking to get involved, both locally and nationally.
WEEK 1: MAIL-IN BALLOTS
Forget what you heard on Twitter: mail-in ballots are just as copacetic as the ballot box. They’re also way less germ-y and way more convenient. Each state is different so make sure you’re signed up!
This info was pulled from Fortune.com on 8/6, but make sure to check your state’s website for updates and to find out if you need an excuse to vote by mail (yep, that’s a thing).
For more info on registering, head to vote.org.
ALL eligible voters deserve the chance to let their true nature be known. Make sure you’re registered and ready for November. Here’s a little reminder of why it’s so important:
Now, more than ever, making your voice heard matters.
And while you’re in the educating yourself type of mood, here’s a short history on voting rights. The more you know…