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July 27, 2020

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Voting is hard by design, and states keep making it harder.
From The Washington Post: “With less than four months before the election, Trump’s escalating attacks on the security of mail-in ballots and his refusal again this week to reassure the country that he would abide by the voters’ will have added urgency to long-simmering concerns among scholars and his critics about the lengths he could go to hold on to power.”
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. - Galatians 6:9 (NRSV)
I’m worried about the election. Worried about foreign interference, that Trump won’t accept the results of the election, that we’ll have repeats of Wisconsin and Georgia, that too many people will be tired and scared or not just give a damn because things feel too broken.

Our participation in the democratic process is fraught at every step. And blaming many people for not voting simply ignores the many barriers to voting that exist. It’s complicated: each state has its own rules on who can vote and when and how. Remember hanging chads? That problem hasn’t been fixed either. Many states have prohibitive voter registration and access point laws that they say are for voter fraud protection, but that really exist to prohibit people from voting, especially those who are low-income or communities of color. People in this country have been disenfranchised since its inception. This type of disenfranchisement is endemic to American democracy.

So next time you complain that people just need to vote, learn more about the history of voter suppression. You can watch Suppressed, about the 2018 Georgia election here. (It will make you very mad.) Voting is hard by design, and states keep making it harder. Voting should be one of the easiest things we as citizens can do, but remember, there are people who want to make it hard so you won’t do it. Being anti-racist means making access to democracy and voting anti-racist too.

Even with all of the things listed above, even with all of the challenges that exist, voting needs to be our main priority this fall. Making sure that as many people who can vote, do vote is critical to making sure that Trump, and all of the Republicans who enable him, are removed from office.
Here’s a smorgasbord of election protection activities to help you make a plan for voting. I’m not gonna lie: all of these things take effort. A few of them require weird paperwork and checking deadlines. Some of them ask you to call (with an actual phone, which I loathe) and speak to a person. A lot of these things assume privilege of time and access to a computer. I hope that out of this variety of options, you’ll consider doing as few or as many as you are able.  
  1. Register to vote, figure out where your polling place is, find out if you can request an absentee ballot and how, figure out who your board of election and voting officials are (these are the people on the ground who determine who votes/how voting happens). Find out the important deadlines in your state. Make a pandemic voting plan and see if you can vote by mail (Think two weeks on either side as lead time to request and send in your ballot.)
  2. Figure out what your rights are, be ready to defend your right to vote, and have the election protection hotline handy (1-866-OUR VOTE).
  3. You know how we’re all having hard conversations with our families and friends? Ask them about voting too. Do they have a plan to vote? If you have friends that have had barriers placed in their way, what ways can you help them? Could you help them look up deadlines or phone numbers, request a voter guide, or show an older family member how to look something up online? 
  4. Call your member of Congress, and local officials. Ask for a virtual visit to ask them what steps they’re taking to protect the election, especially with a pandemic. If you’re calling your Senator you might also want to ask them why they’ve been sitting on the HEROES Act for so long, which included billions of dollars for voting protection so that states and local governments can prepare.
There are a lot of things that could happen between now and November. We’ve got to be focused and prepared for different scenarios and nimble enough to respond to them. Think about how you can prepare and help others get ready as well.
Let your actions be your prayers. With each call you make, each detail you plan, let your motions and actions send up a prayer for protection and healing.
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