2020 has been a year for the history books. A global pandemic, a global movement against racial injustice, record-breaking temperatures, extreme fires and climate disasters around the world. And in November, a presidential election that could forever alter America’s trajectory as a country.
In 2016, many of us weren’t quite old enough to participate in the election and we watched with confusion and anger as the rest of our country decided our future. Now, our generation must exercise our civic duty and make our voices heard.
In the last election only about 60% of eligible voters showed up to the polls. That is a lot of voices that are going unheard. That missing 40% could have had a major impact on the outcome of the election.
So before it’s too late, check your voter registration status here.
And if you’re not registered, do so now.
Nothing should stop you from turning in your ballot this year, not even a pandemic. Many states have options to vote early in-person to lessen crowds at polling sites or to vote by mail.
If you’re voting by mail, remember: don’t save turning in your ballot until the last minute. Though you have the extra time to research propositions and the stances of those running for office, make sure to account for the time it’ll take for your ballot to travel. With millions of eligible voters likely to opt for mail-in voting, many states don’t have infrastructure and resources prepared to handle the inevitable influx of ballots.
And with new changes to the U.S. Postal Service instituted in August that are likely to result in further delays for mail-in ballots, it is imperative that this year you do not just vote, but also vote early if you can. This helps ensure adequate time for your ballot and your voice to be properly counted as well as everyone else’s. Especially in swing states that will begin processing ballots early like Florida, North Carolina and Arizona, getting ballots in ahead of the Election Day rush will be important in determining which candidate wins those states’ electoral college votes.
Don’t let rumors of mail-in voter fraud deter you from turning in your ballot early, or worse, not voting at all. The Washington Post, The Guardian, and Vox among others readily confirm that the potential for fraud and abuse of vote-by-mail systems are very small and not the issue that the Trump administration makes it out to be. Mail-in voting does not give an advantage to either political party. It simply makes the voting process more convenient and, in the context of COVID-19, safer, which increases the overall participation in the election.
Voter suppression tactics targeting people of color and minorities already pose major challenges to getting ballots submitted. Mail-in voting opens up the democratic process to more people, so if this option is available to you, we urge you to take advantage of it.
There are countless issues on the table with this election - climate and the environment, health care, education, immigration policy, future Supreme Court nominees, our local leaders, and more. Our country and planet are poised at a breaking point. This year alone we have confronted the effects of climate change, nationwide racial divides, and the loss of more than 200,000 Americans to a pandemic that the current administration has refused to take seriously.
With this in mind, The Beacon editorial board officially endorses Joe Biden for President. He may not be the ideal candidate we were hoping for, but his policies are more in line with our values than Trump’s policies. A vote for Biden will at the very least take us a step away from four more years of science denial and normalized bigotry and towards the more just and sustainable future that we need.
The bottom line is to vote, and vote early if you can. This election is not about left or right, it’s about our future.
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