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Voting Information & Resources You Need to Make Your Voice Heard

September 27th, 2020

Election day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. And as energizing (or daunting) as that may make you feel, now more than ever is the time to educate yourself on the election process, your voting rights, and how to get involved.

Thrive Market will give all employees time off to vote in the 2020 presidential election, joining hundreds of other companies including Starbucks and Patagonia that have already taken similar steps to encourage voting and civic participation. To empower you to do your part, we’ve gathered some helpful resources.

We’ll begin with the basics—what the election process is, the importance of the popular vote, and the function of the Electoral College. Then we’re sharing key resources to help you safely vote this year, as well as tips on how to amplify your voice.

Key Dates to Keep in Mind

September 29: First Presidential Debate (6 p.m. PT)
October 7: Vice Presidential Debate
October 15: Second Presidential Debate
October 22: Third Presidential Debate
October 24: Vote Early Day
November 3: Election Day

What is the United States Presidential Election Process?

Time to go back to grade school and refresh our memory on how the presidential election process works. After all, it’s not all that uncommon to have forgotten some of these key steps—there’s a lot to it. This is how it breaks down:

  1. The election process begins with primary elections and caucuses. These methods are ultimately how states select a potential presidential nominee.
  2. Then it moves to nominating conventions, during which political parties select an official nominee. During a political party convention, each presidential nominee will also announce a vice presidential running mate.
  3. Then it’s the general election, when Americans cast their vote for president. The tally of these votes is called the “popular vote.”
  4. Popular vote does not determine the winner. Presidential elections use the Electoral College. In order to win the election, a candidate must receive at least 270 electoral votes—more than half of all electors—to win the presidential election. There are currently 538 electors. To see how many electors your state has, click here.

What is the Connection Between the Popular Vote and the Electoral College?

When you cast your vote during the general election, you are voting for a group of people known as “electors.” While the Constitution doesn’t require electors to follow their state’s popular vote, many states’ laws do. The Supreme Court ruled that those state laws are, in fact, constitutional in the National Popular Vote Bill that passed in July of this year. This means that electors must follow their state’s popular vote, if the state has passed such a law. To see if your state requires electors to vote in accordance with the popular vote, head here. And for more information on how electors are chosen, this may be helpful.

Voter Details: Registration, Voter Status, Vote By Mail, Etc.

There are a few key steps you should take to ensure that your voice is heard this November.

Headcount.org is a great online resource that helps you register to vote, check your registration status, find your polling place, and request to vote by mail. Similarly, CNN’s Voter Guide allows you select the state where you’re registered to vote (or intend to register) in order to provide important election deadlines and local voter resources.

If you are voting in person, ensure that you bring a valid form of identification, which varies by state. And as always, follow the CDC’s guidelines for staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are voting by mail, there are a few important deadlines and pieces of information to know. All states allow some form of mail voting, but ease and accessibility will vary:

  • Every registered voter in these states will be mailed a ballot ahead of the election: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Vermont, Washington D.C., and New Jersey.
  • In these seven states, voters still need a reason beyond the COVID-19 virus to vote absentee, meaning you’ll need to vote in person: New York, Indiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi, Lousianna, and Texas.

Over all, 27 states and Washington, D.C., have in some way expanded voter access to mail ballots for the 2020 general election. Request your mail-in ballot here. If you are an American citizen overseas, the Federal Voting Assistance Program will be able to walk you through that specific process.

Civic Alliance is also hosting Voter Education Workshops throughout the month of October at 11 a.m. PT the following days:
October 6: Register here
October 13: Register here
October 20: Register here
October 27: Register here

More Ways to Get Involved

So you’re registered to vote and have a voting plan-of-action. Now what? If you’re interested in getting more involved in the election process, here are a few ways to get started:

  1. Start with social media. Repost and share resources, links, and accurate information with your friends and families. To identify whether a source is credible, Harvard has four tips to help you tell fact from fiction in today’s news.
  2. Have open and honest dialogue with your peers. Educating yourself on the election process and how you can exercise your right to vote is a step in the right direction—now encourage others to do the same in a friendly, approachable way. As Vice writer Rachel Miller says, “It feels like apathy and despair about democracy are at an all-time high right now, but this is the exact moment when it’s most important not to give up.”
  3. Safely volunteer to be a poll worker.

Above all else, remember that election season can be emotionally draining—be that from celebratory or gloomy feelings. We encourage you to take care of yourself in a way that works for you, prioritize your mental health, and ask for help when you need it.

This article is related to: Mental Health, Research, Tips

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Lily CombaLily Comba has never met a baked good she didn't like. When she's not baking, you'll find her writing, taking a Pilates class, or collaborating with the editorial and social team as a Senior Content Writer at Thrive Market.

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