This election season has been more fraught with anxiety than any I have witnessed – not just because of what the outcome will mean for the direction of our country, but also because of the ongoing toll of the pandemic, a postal service in crisis, and continued efforts at the highest levels of government to suppress the vote.
Like many of you, I have never had my right to vote threatened, restricted, or put in jeopardy – until now. Unfortunately, that is not the case for many others in this country, particularly people of color. Voter suppression has been a shameful stain on our democracy for more than a century. The United States has a long history of instituting systems, laws, and intimidation tactics designed to make it harder for marginalized populations to vote.
Despite the hard-won gains at the ballot box over the last 100 years, the integrity of our election is under threat once again. This may feel like just one more crisis alongside those we’re already experiencing in 2020, from the pandemic to our nation’s long-overdue reckoning with racial injustice and white supremacy.
But there is a common thread to all of the events rocking our country right now – the same communities at the center of the calls for racial justice suffer the highest rates of infection and death from coronavirus. And they are the same places most often targeted – historically and currently – for systematic disenfranchisement.
That’s why I want to take a moment to remind you of the power that we have, together, to fight back against these headwinds.
Advocacy helps create the society we want to see, even if it is, at times, grueling and frustrating work. Our world is shaped by laws and policies that dictate whether the water flowing from our taps is clear or cloudy, whether our neighborhoods have greenspace or acres of concrete, and whether our homes are protected from rising seas or vulnerable to worsening storms. The leaders that we select in this year’s elections – up and down the ticket – will fundamentally shape our lives, not just for the next four years, but for decades to come.
As a nonpartisan organization that wields the law to protect New England communities and that challenges broken systems and discriminatory policies, CLF cannot be a passive witness to any attempt to undermine our election process. Neither can our supporters. That is why I am challenging you to take action ahead of November 3. Here’s what I’m asking you to do:
Make A Plan to Vote: Are you going to vote by mail? Or will you vote in person? Will you vote early or wait until election day? Make sure you plan your approach to voting safely now. And be sure to check in on your neighbors, too, in case they need assistance voting.
Support Vote-by-Mail: Call your U.S. Senator and demand that they give our postal service the funding needed to support vote-by-mail. In fact, don’t stop with your Senator. Call every Senator. They have to record your call, and outreach on this issue is already making a difference. To reach a U.S. Senator call (202) 224-3121.
Get Out the Vote: CLF is partnering with the Environmental Voter Project to host Get Out the Vote phone banking. Join a phone banking event and get neighbors and friends to sign the EVP pledge to vote.
Protect Voters: Take action from home or in person as a nonpartisan Election Protection volunteer. Visit ProtectTheVote.net for more information.
I know we’re all feeling the strain of social and economic upheaval; I am acutely aware of the many people in our region and throughout our country who are hurting right now. The reality is, many of our systems are cracked and fraying, failing to serve everyone equally and leaving our most vulnerable behind.
We have the opportunity to change these systems, strengthen our civic institutions, and help the most vulnerable, but only if we exercise and protect the power granted to each of us by our democracy. We can emerge stronger from today’s turmoil, and that work begins at the ballot box.