Thanks, you’re a voter! Now what? (Community Voices, MinnPost)
Dear MinnPost reader: Thank you for being a voter!
At least, I’m assuming you are. But I think it’s a safe bet that MinnPost readers like you were among the more than 900,000 Minnesotans who turned out for the August primary, the highest turnout since 1982.
Since you know you’ll be voting this fall, you should just go ahead and get it out of the way now. Vote from home by requesting a ballot online through the secretary of state’s office, no excuse needed! Or, vote now in person at your local elections office.
There, wasn’t that easy? Now let’s get down to business.
This election is about sending a message
If you’re like me, this election is not a normal election. It’s about sending a message. It’s sending a message that we refuse to be driven apart by religion, what we look like, or where we come from. That we won’t sit by while the Trump administration and its Minnesota allies attack health care coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, abandon efforts to tackle climate change, or break apart families with inhumane immigration policies.
The stakes for this November’s election are incredibly high. For the first time in more than 30 years, we have both U.S. Senate seats and the governor’s seat on the ballot. We have an open attorney general’s seat. Control of both the state House and Senate is in play.
Voting is the baseline civic duty this year. But this year in particular, it’s not enough. So, here are three things you should do to expand your impact this fall:
Remind friends and family
First, reach out to your friends and family and remind them to vote, even if you think they do. Do you have kids in college or traveling? Remind them to get an absentee ballot! Do you have friends who are not as politically engaged? Give them a ring or send them a text! Checking in and making sure they have a plan to vote – early or on Election Day – make it more likely they will. It will be great to catch up and you can feel good knowing you’ve recruited one more voter.
Be an organizer
Second, organize your neighborhood or your social circle. Bring some registration forms to your book club or PTA. Make an announcement at choir practice about early voting. Or just take it upon yourself to make sure everyone on your block or in your building has what they need to vote. We should all aspire to be the 4900 block of Garfield in Minneapolis. These amazing neighbors are setting the bar by organizing not only their block but all blocks around them to go door to door and ensure each one of their neighbors votes! Feel free to remind your neighbors: Their vote is secret, but whether they vote is public and they don’t want to let the block down!
Third, volunteer! Pick a campaign and help door knock or make phone calls. Even if it’s your first time, this is the year to get involved. All campaigns matter and need your help, but getting local can be really rewarding. You get to meet your neighbors and connect with them on what they value most. Also, keep in mind that in 2016 some Minnesota state House races were decided by razor-thin margins – one by 121 votes, another by 125, and a third by 168! Your time and effort matters, and it may matter a lot. Even if you live in a so-called “safe district” where you’re confident your local candidate will win, that probably means your district is a critical one for turning out the vote for statewide races. So it’s time to lace up those sneakers and get out to help.
We all remember what it felt like to wake up on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. How good will it feel to wake up after Election Day this year knowing you did everything you could to send an unmistakable message that we want a country that is caring, green, and welcoming? Let’s get to work!