I think we can all agree — this election season has been a very interesting one to follow. As rallying behind the summer’s conventions wane, Americans are either finalizing or reaffirming their 2016 ballot picks. And on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, we’ll head down to our nearest polling station and flex our collective right to vote.
Finally, the tireless campaigning of many will result in a few chosen leaders.
In the months leading up to the election, you might be wondering how you can go beyond voting, either to help your candidate(s) get elected, or to empower others in the democratic process. From volunteering for a political campaign to hosting your own polling place on election day, here are a few resources to get you started.
Nonprofits and companies can do their part, too. Learn about the innovative companies giving employees election day off!
1. Volunteer for a Candidate
A great way to immerse yourself in the issues affecting our country is by volunteering for a political campaign. Not only will it help you gain a better understanding of the political process, you’ll also acquire or refine work skills. In fact, political campaigns — such as those vying for the presidency — need volunteers in order to succeed.
The good news is this: you’re not limited to volunteering for a small selection of presidential candidates. You can find opportunities to volunteer for state and local campaigns, too. In the upcoming election, many states will vote on national and state legislative representatives, as well as city council members. Find out who’s on your local ballot.
Once you’ve decided on a campaign to volunteer for, visit VolunteerMatch.org or the candidate’s online portal to get started. You’ll likely be asked to join an orientation call where you’ll learn about the different opportunities available to you — like making phone calls from a field office, or canvassing from door-to-door.
2. Volunteer to Register Voters
Another way to help empower Americans to vote is by ensuring that they’re registered to vote in the first place! For most states, the deadline to register to vote is up to 30 days prior to an election. Between now and then, ignite a conversation with a family member or friend who isn’t registered and enlighten them on the due diligence of voting. And don’t forget to remind that friend who recently moved or changed their name that their registration needs to be updated!
You can volunteer to register voters at a local voter registration drive or join a national movement like National Voter Registration Day. From local, grassroots conversations to national efforts, you can do your part to help Americans who are eligible register for the upcoming election.
If working with youth strikes a chord, check out Rock the Vote. For 26 years, they’ve recruited volunteers to get our nation’s youth registered, educated them on policy issues, and worked hard to make sure they cast their ballot.
3. Volunteer on Election Day
The general elections rely on a pool of dedicated compatriots who volunteer as election day poll workers. Without these volunteers, votes wouldn’t be tallied up in time and the voting day process would be more costly.
By volunteering as an election day poll worker, you’re helping ensure our nation’s’ elections are conducted fairly and efficiently. You’ll also get to know folks from your community better. Poll workers are there to assist voters on election day — from checking voters in and making sure they’re registered, to instructing voters on how to use a particular type of polling machine.
To get started on becoming an election day volunteer, check out our list of available election day opportunities or register through the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) website.
Volunteers: Have you volunteered for an election (either previous or current)? If so, what did you do, and how was your experience? Share it with us in the comments section below!