First, you need to be registered to vote for the Nov. 8 election -- and the deadline for registration is Tuesday, Oct. 18. Make sure you and your friends and family are ready to exercise a democratic right. Then, there are a few more things...
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If you’ve been in any campaigns as a worker, you know that means Get Out The Vote – an imperative for not only individual candidates and parties, but for democracy. When only about half the eligible voters turn out for a presidential election, democracy is not realized. Steps must be taken, maybe by you…
First, voters have to be registered. In Maryland, voters who want to cast a ballot in the Nov 8 election must be registered by Tuesday, Oct. 18.
Not every state has the same registration deadline. But if you have friends or relatives in other states, engaged citizens make sure their folks are registered, even if they are not sure they want to vote. They can make up their minds about that on Nov. 8 – but only if they are registered. Make sure they keep their options open.
Voters need to be informed. Not just about the presidential candidates – they have been in the news so much it’s hard not to know what to do – but about the less-ballyhoo’d candidates for federal, state and county offices, and even for the issues that have no personalities attached. Counties across the state have “questions” on their ballots that generally want a yes or no answer. Many of them ask for approval of bond issues, though some ask approval of various charter changes.*
Finally voters need to vote. We are sure you, our progressive readers, will all vote. Early voting (in many places, the week or weeks before the Nov. 8 election) makes sure some last-minute hassle on Nov. 8 doesn’t keep you from exercising your power at the polls.
More to the point, take what measures you can to make sure others have every opportunity to vote. Maryland is largely voter-friendly, but other states have onerous restrictions on time, place and required ID that amount to discrimination against the poor, working households and minorities. If you have family or friends in other states – North Carolina is a great example – courts have recently overturned some of their worst voter suppression efforts, but voters there need to be up to date on what they can and can’t do because local elections boards, county by county, are not always following the new court-ordered requirements. Virginia is no paradise for poor and minority voters either; spending a half-day in the Old Dominion helping people get ready to exercise their franchise can be helpful. Or you can stay home and work the phones. And there are counties in Maryland where election boards look for chances to make voting harder for poor people and minorities; if you have friends there, check it out.
Election day, or during early voting, people may simply need help getting to the polls.
So there’s your do-list as an engaged member of a democratic society. We are progressives – Progressive Maryland, hoooah! – and we hope you will think, act and vote like a progressive as you do all these things. But ensuring your own chance to cast a vote, and helping as many others do that same as you can, is the Very First Thing.
Someday Election Day will be a federal holiday, maybe even a two-day span over the weekend, and registration will be universal, and much higher proportions of the eligible voter pool will actually get to have their say. In the meantime we have to keep fighting. And GOTV.