“Vote for our lives.” “Your vote is your voice.”
These and other “Get Out the Vote” campaign slogans are fueling communities around the Carolinas fighting against voter suppression efforts in a vital election that is loaded with political division, a pandemic and the continued fight for increased voter equity and mail-in options.
According to a 2019 Williams Institute study on LGBTQ voters, nearly nine million LGBTQ adults are registered and eligible to vote in the upcoming 2020 general election. Half of registered LGBTQ voters (50 percent) are Democrats, 15 percent are Republicans, 22 percent are Independents, and 13 percent said they identify with another party or did not know with which party they most identify. LGBTQ voters are reportedly racially diverse, nearly half (47 percent) are under age 35, and one-third have at least a college education.
Yet, as we reported in the beginning of our Turn Out series, one in five LGBTQ voters is not registered to vote. Do you have a plan?
Full speed ahead
Visit most national LGBTQ websites and you will find voting information front and center. As the GLAAD website says, the “2020 election may be the most critical of our lifetimes in determining the future of our nation — and the future of our fight for full LGBTQ equality and acceptance here at home and around the world.”
GLAAD has teamed up with Headcount, a national organization that aims to increase voter registration and promote participation in democracy, to achieve the largest turnout of LGBTQ people and allies in history at the polls in November.
Groups like Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and PFLAG are also focused on turning out allies. Turnout by LGBTQ people was up 4 percent on Super Tuesday, according to NBC exit polls. Geoff Wetrosky, national campaign director at the Human Rights Campaign told Vox, “All of the data from this year’s presidential primary, the 2018 midterms, and the 2016 presidential election shows the LGBTQ voting bloc is growing and that LGBTQ voters are difference-makers and a constituency to court.”
Even Cher has been gearing up for the fight. The musical icon has not been one to shy away from speaking her mind against President Trump and in a recent Twitter post committed to doing even more. “I WILL VISIT STATES IF ASKED,” wrote Cher on Twitter. “IF ASKED I WILL VISIT UNTIL I DROP….PLEASE VOTE.”
On the local front, Equality North Carolina (ENC) launched the #OutToVote “30 Days of Action” campaign. Each day from Sept. 9 to National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, the LGBTQ equality organization has and will continue to ask members and social media followers to engage around mobilizing the vote and volunteering in the upcoming election. According to its website, “It’s all one massive push to Early Voting, which runs from Oct. 15-31 in North Carolina.”
So, here’s a quick guide on things the community can do to help mobilize the vote and prepare for Election Day 2020.
While mobilization efforts heavily rely on new and emerging technologies, traditional methods like phone banking and post-carding are still popular — especially in reaching potential voters in rural areas. Reclaim Our Vote is a project of Center for Common Ground and has partnered with organizations like the North Carolina NAACP to fight voter suppression, especially against voters of color. Volunteers use traditional methods to encourage people to make sure they are registered, to know their voting rights and make plans to get to the ballot boxes. It is a nonpartisan campaign and has made more than 500,000 phone calls and sent 5 million postcards as of press time.
This is the last week to get mailings out in time and the current campaign focuses on getting people to participate in early voting. This effort specifically targets people who may have been purged from the voter rolls since the last election. Phone banking will continue throughout the month.
To sign up, go to centerforcommonground.org and click “volunteer.”
One in 3 voters plan to cast their ballots by mail this year, according to NBC News reports. Any North Carolina registered voter may request, receive and vote a mail-in absentee ballot. The USPS is recommending that voters mail their ballots at least one week prior to the state’s deadline. Voters can request and track their ballots at ncsbe.gov/voting/vote-mail/absentee-ballot-tools.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27 and it must be postmarked by 5 p.m. on Election Day (Nov. 3). Ballots can also be delivered in person to your county Board of Elections or early voting site.
Voters can track their ballots using the newly launched BallotTrax, an online tool created by a Colorado software company that tracks mail-in ballots similar to packages.
Earlier in the series, qnotes reported that HRC partnered with Team to offer a mobile app to engage members and those they identify as Equality Voters to speak directly to friends about the candidates. As the site states, “meaningful conversations about LGBTQ equality with our loved ones is how we make progress.” The app allows an individual to share content directly with their contacts through their mobile phone. This makes those conversations about candidates easier when many are lacking those in-person opportunities because of COVID-19.
Consider being a poll worker. “We must ensure that the voting process at the polls is as smooth and cohesive as possible,” says Kendra Johnson, executive director of ENC. The organization is providing education for workers on the difficulties faced by LGBTQ folks at the polls. For more information, visit equalitync.org or register directly at ncsbe.gov/about-elections/get-involved/become-election-official.
It’s the last chance at early voting in North Carolina. Early voting ends on Oct. 31. It allows voters to (hopefully) avoid long lines, access more flexible voting hours and locations and have the chance to register or update their registration on-site. If potential voters missed the 25-day registration deadline, they can still access same-day registration at their polling place during early voting only. Remember, one cannot register and vote on the same day come Election Day.
To use same-day registration, one must provide one of the following documents: a N.C. driver’s license or other government photo ID with name and current address, student photo ID with a school document showing their address or any document from any government agency with one’s name and current address.
From local elections to the White House, 2020 is a critical election year. qnotes has released endorsements from ENC and SC Equality to help voters to be prepared. The list includes national, state and local candidates. Visit bit.ly/QnotesElections2020 for a full list.
Now’s the time to finalize a plan and prepare for Election Day 2020. Call friends, families and neighbors to see if someone needs a ride to the polls.
Fueled by the tireless efforts of many LGBTQ people, organizations have mobilized voters who care about LGBTQ equality for months. Now is the community’s time to cross the finish line and hope for the best. With the passing of the iconic Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it seems appropriate to quote her here. “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
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Things to remember:
• Register to vote. If you think you’re registered, check to make sure. Don’t be a victim of voter purges.
• If you’re registered, make sure that information is correct. If not, update it. Take a screenshot, so no one can deny your registration.
• Stay informed. Find out about documents or IDs that might be required.
• Make a plan. Know where you are supposed to vote, what time polling is open and how you are getting there.
• Most importantly, know your rights. If polls close and you’re in line, stay in the line. If you make a mistake on your ballot, ask for a new one. If machines are down, ask for a paper ballot. If they can’t find your name on voting rolls, then ask for a provisional ballot. If you run into any problems or have any questions on election day, call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.
• Tell everyone you know.