Voting Matters: Make Sure Yours Counts

Since this congregation welcomed a new minister last year, we’ve faced many unexpected challenges. However, I don’t think I’m alone in perceiving that UUFR these days is experiencing a greater sense of cohesion, connection and community.  Leadership matters.  What if we could, individually and collectively, generate possibilities for the same transformation in our local, state and national governments?

The upcoming elections (with November 3rd’s election day less than 4 short months away) are our opportunity to do that.  Voting matters– a lot.  As many of us have been writing on postcards, “Your Vote is Your Voice.”

In previous election cycles, I’ve done my share of election-year Get Out the Vote and/or candidate canvassing. I recognize that 2020 presents distinctly different challenges – due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of multilevel challenges to election integrity and voter enablement.

Regardless of your past voting and/or election participation history, THIS year it’s especially important to take a strategic, proactive approach to ensuring that your voice will be heard when you cast your ballot.

Taking a strategic approach to protecting your vote means, first and foremost, establishing a clear PLAN for how and when you plan to cast your ballot.  While the start of the actual voting period may still seem comfortably distant, the time to establish your plan is now.  A bit of extra runway will allow you to respond and adapt to unforeseen roadblocks.

For example, if you plan to vote by mail, something as seemingly minor as a slight signature mismatch with your initial Voter Registration form can derail your timing.  A viable proactive strategic plan allows for reset and recovery if/when things don’t proceed exactly as anticipated.

A personal voting plan will involve several important elements:

  • Verify your valid voter registration and re-register if necessary (applicable to all voting options);
  • Determine whether you plan to vote in person or by mail*;
  • If you plan to vote by mail, submit an application for an Absentee Ballot to the County Board of Elections (this can be done immediately; ballot forms will be mailed in September);
  • If you plan to vote in person, determine the time and place you will cast your ballot;
  • Complete and submit the Absentee Ballot Form OR make your planned trip to vote in person.

*You can request/receive an absentee ballot and still vote in person; you simply can’t do both.  Absentee ballots may be mailed to the County Board of Elections OR personally delivered to an Early Voting site.

In prior election years up to 20% of Absentee Ballots were not counted due either to signature discrepancies or misdirection during the mailing process. Increased use of Vote by Mail due to the pandemic may cause increased risk of Absentee Ballot miscounts. You can use the vote-by-mail link in the external resources listed below for a step-by-step explanation of the mail in voting process.

In a later post, the UUFR Voter Engagement and Advocacy Team will provide specific 2020 election benchmark dates and resources to assist you in executing all elements of your Voting Plan.  We encourage you to start thinking about it NOW in order to ensure its success.

 

EXTERNAL RESOURCES:

Validate Your Registration Status and/or Register to Vote: https://www.youcanvote.org/getregistered

Vote by Mail: https://www.youcanvote.org/vote-by-mail

 

Christina Stableford, [email protected]
For the Voter Advocacy Ministry Team