Vote Like a Mother

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“When my grandma was born, women could not vote. I use my right to honor the struggle to get me that right and to make my voice heard.”

I have been writing letters to encourage others to vote, and this is how I end most of them- especially those to other women. I realized this in discussion with my kindergartner, trying to give him some context on the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment last month. It’s not that long ago. Many people have gained the right to vote much more recently.  I believe voting is the bedrock of a democracy, it is an important duty of a citizen, and finally, that if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain about the results. I want to model for my kids that I am engaged in what kind of present and future we will have. That’s a big motivation for me, if I want to weigh in on the community and country we live in- I think I have to have done my most basic duty to shape what life looks like.

Election Day is November 3, 2020. How will you participate?

Base Level: Register and Vote! The Coconino County Elections site has lots of information- this is where you can register to vote (deadline is October 5, 2020!), request an early ballot (by October 23, 2020,) find out where to vote early in person (before October 30, 2020).

I really like being on the Permanent Early Voting List. My ballot comes a few weeks before the election, which confirms nothing weird happened with my registration (I’ve shown up twice to vote, in two other states, and had been kicked off of the rolls…) and gives me time to look into it if it does.  Then I have some time on my schedule to research any candidates or ballot measures I am less familiar with. And finally, while I can mail it back, I usually drop it off in person at one of the many drop-off sites– so I know it got there. If you have questions or issues with registration or getting your ballot, the county Elections office is 928-679-7860.

In Arizona, if we don’t turn in an early ballot or vote in person early- we can actually then show up and vote in person on election day. Bring ID!

I’m going to include with base-level participation- researching the ballot measures and local races, or “down-ballot” as they say. This year we are voting for President and for one Senator, which are big, important decisions. But citizens initiatives and city council or county supervisor can make a huge impact on our every day lives, too!

Ideas to Level Up:

Sign up to be a poll worker! This is a paid position through Elections, workers who are bilingual in Spanish or Navajo are especially useful. Many regular poll workers are older, retired people- and are not able to participate this year due to increased health risk and the Covid-19 pandemic. So if you are younger and healthy and comfortable working the polls (with social distancing procedures and safety precautions in place) you could really help the election run smoothly in Coconino County.

Volunteer with Election Protection, either by poll-watching or answering hotline calls- to ensure everyone qualified to vote is able to.

Encourage others to register and vote. I have been writing letters to unlikely voters through non-partisan Vote Forward. They roll out new campaigns pretty often and are halfway to their goal of sending 5 million letters before the election. I am about halfway through my goal of 300 letters. You can also phone or text bank for a specific candidate, party, or PAC. All of these systems have ways to protect your personal information- you’re not mailing from your return address or calling/texting from your actual phone number.

And, of course, donations to campaigns at any level are helpful and a way to vote with your dollars. This is especially true in small and local campaigns where small amounts can make a huge difference.

Talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to your kids. Make voting an expectation. Discuss why voting is important to you. Help people you know overcome barriers – offer rides or babysitting to help folks get to the polls. You’re able to drop off ballots for disabled household members.

This is an important year to be an Arizona voter- so get out there, use your rights, and vote like a mother!

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