Even if you aren’t following the latest in American politics, a glance at the latest headlines or scroll through social media reveals that things aren’t exactly going well (gestures vaguely at everything). Voting rights, reproductive healthcare, racial equality, privacy, and the ability for children to be safe at school are just a few of the basic things Americans are fighting for at the moment.
With all (gestures again) this going on, it’s difficult to know where or how to begin to make a change. With the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, Entertain Impact’s Advocacy Alliance team put together a civic engagement guide listing ten ways you can become politically active, coordinate grassroots action, and support voting rights while keeping your sanity.
1. Check your voter registration status ahead of the midterm elections
After reading this civic engagement guide, one of the easiest steps you can take is to check your voter registration status on Vote.org. If you recently moved or changed your name, you will need to re-register to restore your ability to vote in the midterms. Also, you may need to renew your voter registration if it’s been a while since the last time you voted.
Even if these things don’t apply to you, it’s still good to check your status. Each state is different, and voter registration rolls are constantly updated to remove the names of people who have become ineligible to vote. And, believe it or not, people are often wrongfully removed and don’t realize it until it’s time to go to the polls. Follow the steps on the site to check your voter status, and be sure to re-register if needed.
2. Register eligible voters at concerts near you
While we think all forms of activism are exciting, this is arguably the most fun option in our civic engagement guide. Mixing cause influence with political advocacy, HeadCount makes it easy to coordinate grassroots action by pairing voter registration with live music. Get a few friends together and volunteer to register voters at an upcoming show in your city. Tons of artists (Dave Matthews Band, The Chicks, Phoebe Bridgers, Jack Johnson) have already partnered with Headcount to help get out the vote ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
3. Write letters to encourage political engagement
For people who prefer to take political action from the comfort of their own homes, check out the non-profit Vote Forward, which focuses on mobilizing voters through letter-writing campaigns. Before you write this off (hah, get it? Write?) as an outdated form of political activism, you should know that Vote Forward boasts an impressive track record. In 2020, Vote Forward’s 200,000 volunteers sent more than 17.6 million letters to eligible voters, and helped boost voter turnout by 3.4%. In states with tight races, this increase in voter turnout can be key to an election’s outcome.
4. Support organizations championing important ballot issues
Decisions about many of the issues currently being discussed nationally, such as abortion access, gun control, and voting rights, will be left up to individual states. Whatever issue you want to galvanize support around, there’s a local non-profit working on it, and they likely need your support.
Whether you’re looking to help fund-raise, lend your skills to a campaign, or educate others in your community, Charity Navigator’s non-profit evaluation tool can help you find the right organization. Their database makes it easy to discover and assess non-profits based on your selected topic and location.
5. Defend voting rights as an election day poll worker
Apparently, having ex-presidents and their disbarred lawyers threaten and disparage poll workers doesn’t help to recruit volunteers. As a result, many counties are concerned they might not have enough poll workers for the 2022 midterm elections. That could lead to longer lines, thrown-out ballots, and disenfranchised voters. One way to support voting rights is to become a poll worker and help ensure a fair and safe election. If this feels up your alley, sign up for training and placement at Power the Polls.
6. Volunteer to help flip state legislatures in swing states
Interested in coordinating grassroots action in a swing state? Advocacy organization Sister District knows that widespread policy change often starts at home within state legislatures. Through Sister District, you have the opportunity to join a volunteer team in your area to support Democratic candidates in swing states by writing postcards to voters, text banking, phone banking, and more.
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7. Organize grassroots action as a civic engagement leader
If you’re reading this civic engagement guide hoping to take on a bigger commitment ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, we suggest getting involved with First Lady Michelle Obama’s voter mobilization non-profit, When We All Vote. It offers a year-long Chapter Leader Program that trains and develops a cohort of civic leaders to serve as on-the-ground muscle for advocacy, organizing, and voter education initiatives. Chapter leaders can coordinate grassroots action to build civic engagement and participation, lead initiatives to register and mobilize voters, host events, and help pass legislation to protect voting rights. Get started by filling out this form, and a When We All Vote team member will contact you.
8. Research your representative’s voting records
We must keep political representatives accountable for their actions. If you aren’t happy with how your state legislature is performing, dig deeper to find out which representative is and isn’t voting in line with your views. Check out GovTrack to see how they’ve voted on key legislation and held up their campaign promises.
9. Hold politicians accountable with your vote
Voting records aren’t the only important thing to pay attention to. The actions and rhetoric of someone running for office can also indicate how they will yield their political power. The non-profit organization Public Wise keeps a database of public figures involved in the January 6 attack on our Capitol. Check out Public Wise’s Insurrection Index before casting your vote to see if anyone on your ballot played a role in attempting to undermine our republic.
10. Learn how to identify and respond to voter intimidation
Voter intimidation is illegal and, thankfully, rare. But as political tensions rise, it’s a real concern for many. Americans are entitled to free and fair elections, and no one should feel afraid to exercise their voting rights. Before you hit the polls, we recommend you become familiar with Campaign Legal Center’s guide on handling voter intimidation, should you encounter it.
Stay Civically Engaged to Make an Impact in November
There’s a lot at stake. From voting to privacy to bodily autonomy, rights we’ve come to take for granted are being taken away. When it comes to civic participation and ways to stay civically engaged and support voting rights ahead of the 2022 midterms, casting a ballot is just the tip of the iceberg. By educating ourselves and our friends, volunteering, and helping to motivate and mobilize our communities leading up to the midterm elections, we have a chance at reclaiming what is rightfully ours as Americans: freedom.
Multiply your impact: share this resource on Twitter to encourage others to get involved.
To learn more about Entertain Impact and the Entertain Impact Advocacy Alliance’s work on voter education, voter registration, and legislative advocacy, click here.
This guide was written by Kristine Moffit and Gina Graves.
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