Save the Date! | Frances Chai
It is clear that this election season has been (and will continue to be) unlike any other in the past. Current president and the 2020 Republican candidate Donald Trump contracted the COVID-19 virus just recently (and put the lives of his Secret Service agents at risk by locking them in a hermetically sealed vehicle with him while he paraded around and waved to his supporters outside of Walter Reed Hospital), Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s unfortunate passing left a Supreme Court seat open merely weeks before the election, and the current administration has proven that they have little regard for both the environment and basic human rights (a trend that has a possibility of continuing should Trump be re-elected for the next four years). Needless to say, it has never been more important to vote.
November 3rd is Election Day, but that’s not the only date to keep in mind in the coming weeks. The deadline to register to vote is October 19th, a full 15 days before November 3rd. When voting by mail, most encourage sending in the ballot by October 20th in order to ensure that it is received on time. Earlier this year in California, a new law was passed stating that election officials must accept mail-in ballots that arrive up to 17 days after Election Day (November 20th) as long as they are postmarked by November 3rd. However, like most things of great importance, it is better to be safe than sorry. Make sure that the envelope is marked correctly or else you run the risk of not having your ballot counted. Once you mail in your ballot, you can even track it with a website called Where’s My Ballot? This resource uses automatic email, text messaging, or voice call notifications to keep you in the loop about when your ballot is mailed, received, and counted. If you are heading to the in-person polls (either to vote in person or to turn in your mail-in ballot) on Election Day make sure to show up between 7:00 AM and 8:00 PM, wear a mask, and follow COVID-19 social distancing rules.
What if you are not old enough to vote? Don’t worry, there are still plenty of ways to take action. If you are just shy of voting age at 16 or 17 years old, pre-register to vote and encourage your peers to do the same! Stay updated on current events and spread useful information. Explain the importance of voting to those who might be hesitant. Educate yourself on the candidates and their stances on certain topics so you are better equipped to have productive conversations with the people around you. Tune in to all broadcasted events leading up to the election such as the debates. They could be a great source of information or a great source of memes and entertainment. The only way to find out is to watch!
In 2016, almost half of the United States’ eligible voting population neglected to cast a ballot. That’s tens of millions of people who could have voted but chose not to. The most popular reasons for not voting were lack of interest and the attitude that their vote would not make a difference, a conflicting work or school schedule, or a dislike of candidates and campaign issues. If you are of legal voting age, do not let yourself be a part of the statistic that does not cast a ballot. This year, we are all voting for our lives and the lives of others. We are voting for the only planet we have to live on and for the basic human rights of minority and marginalized communities. If those aren’t good enough incentives to get you to vote, I honestly don’t know what to tell you. Voting is a civic responsibility, and for the sake of this country and everyone who lives in it, we all have to do better.