Summer Voting Project
Concerted efforts to suppress voters’ voices makes casting a ballot nearly impossible for many citizens. This is unacceptable. Voting in the US should not be hard or costly. The time is now to expand voting rights through action at every level of government—local to federal. The time is now to design voting solutions that prevent spreading covid-19.
AoCC has a plan to address these issues head on. This month, our exclusive focus is to empower voters, expand voting access, and restore voting rights. Our goal? 6,000 actions in one month.
Your part in the plan: Take five actions per week in the next three weeks. Do this, and we’ll meet (or exceed) our goal. Or, If you’re up for a challenge, complete all
22 25 actions this month! Be sure to click the check box under each completed action, so your effort is counted.
Together, we can do our part to ensure every American can participate in the election—safely—this November.
— Jen Hofmann and the AoCC Team
Action 1: Encourage voter registration through your local high school. [h/t The Civics Center]
Write or call: Your local high school principal or school administrator (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m [writing/calling] from [ZIP] to request that [name of school] conducts a digital voter registration drive for students who will be eligible to vote in November. Young people in the U.S. generally have a low rate of election participation, and this year COVID-19 has greatly impacted traditional registration opportunities. That’s why I am asking you to invest even more fully in your students’ futures and voices and host a digital voter registration drive before the November election. Thank you.
Action 2: Ask your local officials to encourage voter participation. [h/t When We All Vote]
Write or call: Your mayor (add ZIP code to look up).
Script: Hi, I’m from [ZIP], writing to ask that you release a public message encouraging people to exercise their right to vote. Given concerns about low voter turnout due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Civic Cities program helps local officials share resources for voters to safely cast a ballot. Please commit to increasing voter registration and participation in your city by signing up for Civic Cities. Thank you.
Bonus: Write your city council leader (add ZIP code to look up).
Local election official
Action 3: Request your absentee/vote-by-mail ballot early. ASAP. [h/t Vote.org]
Voting by mail is the safest way to vote amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Take steps to receive a mail ballot now so you will be ready to vote in November.
- Check: Vote.org to find out how to request an absentee/vote-by-mail ballot in your state.
- Check: Whether your state recently expanded access to voting by mail.
- Request: Your absentee ballot today (or put it on your calendar).
- For U.S. voters overseas: Request an absentee ballot using the Federal Post Card Application by August 1. In 2016, only about 7% of eligible overseas voters cast a ballot, versus nearly 72% of those stateside. Voting from abroad encourages legislators to attend to issues affecting citizens living internationally.
Action 4: Speak up for accessible voting at the local level. [Americans of Conscience]
Call: Your local election official (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m from [TOWN], calling to ask how our district is addressing the barriers faced by disabled voters.
If any of the answers are NO: Voting accessibility is a crucial issue because one-quarter of all Americans live with a disability. Can you tell me what [NAME] is doing to resolve this before the November elections?
If all answers are YES: Thank you for your hard work to ensure that every voter can cast a ballot.
Write: Your local Board of Elections/election officials (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m writing from [ZIP] to ask you to recruit additional poll workers for November’s election. Having too few poll workers leads to long lines and closed polling places, situations which discourage voting. Please take action by reaching out and offering poll work information to:
- Current poll workers, who can recruit friends and family to join them.
- Former county workers with relevant skills.
- People with pending applications for county jobs.
- High school principals, who can pass info on to their students.
- College civics clubs, residence hall associations, work programs, and/or offices of student affairs.
Action 6: Help your polling places prepare for the November election. [h/t League of Women Voters]
Email or write: Your local (county or town) election official (look up).
Script: Hi, I live in [COUNTY/TOWN] and am writing to offer a resource as you prepare for the November 3 election. There is still time to prevent long lines, poll worker shortages, and broken machines, and thereby avoid what recently happened in Georgia. ElectionTools.org is a free, nonpartisan resource that can help you and your staff allocate adequate polling place resources for a safe and accurate election. Thank you.
State elections official
Action 7: Protect online voter registration systems. [h/t Brennan Center]
Write: Your state election official (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m from [ZIP], calling to urge you to take measures that keep online voter registration systems running smoothly. In the event of a system failure or outage, voters’ registration information needs to be protected and remain up to date. Please protect online voter information by:
- Establishing testing and authorization protocols following system updates.
- Scheduling periodic independent testing of the system for vulnerabilities.
- Maintaining off-line backup copies of digital records.
- Avoiding overloading registration database servers during peak use.
- Providing voters with online tools to check their registration status.
Action 8: Advocate for secure remote elections office operations during a pandemic. [h/t Brennan Center]
Write or Call: Your state election official (look up).
Script: Hello, I’m [writing/calling] from [ZIP] because I strongly support investing in cybersecurity measures for the upcoming November election. To ensure a safe and fair election under shelter-in-place orders, election officials and staff will need to operate and access the voter registration database remotely, putting them at greater risk for cyber attack. Please do your part to protect the security of the 2020 election by ensuring teleworkers are aware of and comply with cybersecurity best practices, and preparing officials and staff for remote work during this election season.
Action 9: Bolster your state’s election security. [h/t Verified Voting]
Call: Or write your state election official (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m a resident of [STATE] and am calling/writing to insist [STATE] implement the following five election security recommendations to ensure the safety and accuracy of my vote:
- Integrated ballot tracking systems, such as that used by the USPS.
- Audited signature-matching processes that allow voters the opportunity to correct or “cure” their ballots.
- Voting systems that do not require voting via the internet or a mobile app, and that produce a voter-verified paper ballot.
- Ballot management and chain-of-custody documentation.
- Extended deadlines for canvassing all ballots.
If [STATE] does not already utilize these measures, I urge [NAME] to resolve these vulnerabilities. Thank you.
Action 10: Advocate for efficient voting by mail. [h/t USPS]
Write: Your state election officials (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m from [ZIP] and I’m asking you to follow USPS guidelines to make voting by mail run smoothly during the November election. Vote-by-mail is the safest option during a pandemic and can be streamlined by:
- Using First-Class Mail for all outgoing and incoming ballots.
- Asking voters in your state to return completed ballots seven days prior to current deadlines.
- Adding intelligent barcodes on ballot envelopes for faster sorting and processing.
Please help your constituents safely exercise their right to vote by implementing these guidelines. Thank you.
Action 11: Advocate for a crucial safeguard for secure elections. [h/t Verified Voting]
Call: Your state elections official (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m calling from [ZIP] because I want the security measures of [STATE]’s elections to be public and trustworthy. Nonpartisan experts agree that post-election oversight in the form of a risk-limiting audit (RLA) is the strongest and most cost-effective defense against malfunctioning or hacked voting systems. Can I count on [NAME] to support mandatory RLAs in [STATE] ahead of November’s presidential election? Thank you.
Bonus: If your state already requires RLAs (CO, NV, RI, and VA), donate to Verified Voting here, to provide support and auditing expertise to election officials in other states.
Action 12: Advocate for safe polling places for Native Americans. [h/t Brennan Center]
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] because I’m concerned about the unique voting challenges routinely faced by Native Americans living on reservations. Closing polling sites due to the pandemic further excludes this community because mail service is limited. The Native American Voting Rights Act of 2019, endorsed by nonpartisan human rights groups across the U.S., would provide new approaches to ensure voting access. Can I count on [NAME] to co-sponsor H.R. 1694/S. 739?
Action 13: Prevent online voter suppression. [h/t Brookings Institute]
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m calling from [ZIP] because online political ads need to be subjected to the same disclosure requirements as TV and radio ads. The Honest Ads Act would mandate such disclosures, preventing the spread of false information about elections and voting and other forms of digital voter suppression. Can I count on [NAME] to co-sponsor the Honest Ads Act (S. 1356 / H.R. 2592), which already has strong bipartisan support? Thank you.
Call: Your two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] because I’m worried that this fall my elderly, LGBTQ+, Native American, and other vulnerable neighbors face state and local policies, such as ID laws and voter purges, that impede their voting. While the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision ended previous protections against such discriminatory practices, it also allowed for future legislation to address them. I’m asking [NAME] to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act (S. 561) to protect every citizens’ right to vote. I also want [NAME] to urge the Majority Leader to advance this bill immediately, since it passed the House more than seven months ago.
Bonus: Contact Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to urge a vote on S. 561.
Address: 317 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Action 15: Speak up for accessible voting at the national level. [Americans of Conscience]
Call: Your two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] because I believe all Americans have the right to participate in our democracy. Voter turnout in the 2018 midterms reflected a nearly 5% gap between disabled and non-disabled voters, often due to inaccessible polling places. Many elderly people and non-native English speakers also experience barriers to voting. I’m asking [NAME] to co-sponsor the Accessible Voting Act of 2020 (S. 3206), which will provide resources to address these issues at the state and local levels.
Action 16: Advocate for safe polling places for Native Americans. [h/t Brennan Center]
Call: Your two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] because I’m concerned about the unique voting challenges routinely faced by Native Americans living on reservations. Closing polling sites due to the pandemic further excludes them because vote by mail is not easily available. The Native American Voting Rights Act of 2019, endorsed by nonpartisan human rights groups across the U.S., would provide new approaches to ensure voting access. Can I count on [NAME] to co-sponsor H.R. 1694/S. 739?
Action 17: Prevent online voter suppression. [h/t Brookings Institute]
Call: Your two senators (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m calling from [ZIP] because online political ads need to be subjected to the same disclosure requirements as TV and radio ads. The Honest Ads Act would mandate such disclosures, preventing the spread of false information about elections and voting, as well as other forms of digital voter suppression. Can I count on [NAME] to co-sponsor the Honest Ads Act (S. 1356 / H.R. 2592), which already has strong bipartisan support? Thank you.
Action 18: Register voters during National Disability Voter Registration Week (July 13-17). [h/t American Association of People with Disabilities]
Post on social media: It’s National Disability Voter Registration Week! Bridge the 4.7% gap in turnout between voters with and without disabilities. Register today using AADP’s Online Voter Registration Portal: https://www.whenweallvote.org/aapdrevup/
Action 19: Safeguard your vote. [h/t Brennan Center]
Spread the Vote assists people in obtaining IDs in states that require them to vote.
Donate: https://www.kindest.com/donate/spread-the-vote (Mention that you’re from AoCC!)
Action 20: Support voting by people with criminal convictions. [h/t Campaign Legal Center]
Write: A letter to the editor of your local newspaper(s).
Script: Voting by mail is popular, safe, and vital to voting participation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the U.S. Federal Election Commission and nonpartisan National Vote at Home Institute): [Pick the bullet points that are important to you, or share them all!]
- States with higher use of mailed-out ballots see a materially higher voter turnout.
- Voting by mail increases voting participation in local elections.
- Mail-in ballots increase voting participation among voters with disabilities.
- Both “red” and “blue” states utilize mail-in ballots.
- Vote-at-home is less expensive than in-person voting.
- Ballots are only sent to registered voters.
- Ballot envelopes are barcoded to one individual voter and validated by voter signature verification.
- Tampering with or diverting a mail ballot is a felony punishable by large fines and years of jail time.
- Voters can track their ballot in real time using USPS mail-tracking tools.
I’m calling on our local Board of Elections and state election officials to take action today. To ensure a safe, fair election this November, all voters must be able to cast their ballot by mail.
Action 22: Encourage young people to exercise their right to vote. [h/t 18by.vote]
Post on social media: This year, 3.5 million Americans will reach the age of 18 before the 2020 election. You don’t have to be 18 to register. If your 18th birthday is before November 3rd, register to vote and make yourself heard! https://www.18by.vote
NEW Actions! (as of 8/1/20)
Due to the pandemic and current leadership, the 2020 election situation is constantly evolving. Because of this, we’re adding several more actions to address this reality.
Action 23: Ensure ballot delivery by defending the US Postal Service.
Email: Your two senators (look up)
Script: Copy this letter and paste it into an email message urging Majority Leader McConnell to bring H.R. 2382 to the floor for a vote.
Bonus USPS action 2: Print a copy of the letter and leave it for your mail carrier as a show of support.
Action 24: Prevent voter intimidation and obstruction on election night. [credit: 866-OUR-VOTE]
Sign up to be a virtual poll monitor through 866-OUR-VOTE and receive reports of unjust voting practices in real time.
Action 25: Prevent discrimination at the polls.
Sign up to be a poll worker. Right or wrong, some states will have in-person polls open. If you are in a low-risk category, consider signing up to work the polls and protect every citizen’s right to vote.
Look up your state poll/election worker information. [source]
Poll worker note for residents of GA, MD, NM, OH, PA, & SC.
Action 26: Ensure a safe in-person local election.
Sign up to be an Election Judge. If you’re in a low-risk category, adults and students are needed (and Green Card holders in some states) to oversee your local elections. Application, selection, training (and sometimes pay) included.