The 2020 presidential election is approaching rapidly! In our current political, social and pandemic environment, this year’s election process is bound to encounter uncharted territory and unique dilemmas. It’s never been more important to encourage your staff, donors, volunteers and clients to make their voices heard.
You can start by sharing important details with your audiences.
How to register:
The first step for some will be to register. Maryland and District of Columbia residents can register in person up to and on November 3 (Election Day). But to register online or by mail (this is NOT the same as mail-in ballots, see below), the deadline is October 13. Virginia residents MUST be registered by October 13, as there are NO walk-in registrations accepted.
It’s important to note two key deadlines—one for requesting a mail-in ballot and one for submitting your vote. These dates are different for each state: Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia.
Foster an environment that encourages voting:
- On election day, either give employees a few hours of PTO, reduce business hours or, if possible, consider closing that day (as the Center plans to do)
- Make resources available that detail how to register to vote, where to vote and why it is important
- Include reminders in your communications with registration dates and a countdown to Election Day
- Communicate with your clients who need help registering or voting to ensure they understand the process and have access to available support services
Encourage voting, but stay nonpartisan:
Remaining nonpartisan can be tricky especially when it comes to the complexities of communicating your ‘get out the vote’ messaging. A few things to watch out for:
- Your message can encourage people to vote based on a broad, overarching belief or movement that doesn’t particularly fit an agenda. For example, ‘vote for ending world poverty’ or ‘vote for clean water.’ It can NOT involve more specific beliefs like ‘vote for universal healthcare.”
- Besides the community you serve and those known to need help voting, you may not target particular groups with your ‘get out to vote’ messaging.
- If you work with senior citizens, only medical and senior living staff/personnel or a person the senior has indicated with the state may help them fill out an absentee form. (This one can be confusing, be sure to check out your state’s voting information or contact a representative if you have any questions.)
- It is okay to have an item or merchandise from a particular candidate at your home, outside of work, other settings unrelated to your organization or even in your work office, but having or wearing that item in a public work setting should be avoided.
Maryland State Board of Elections
District of Columbia Board of Elections
Virginia State Department of Elections