Not old enough to vote or aren’t allowed? What you can do to sway an election
The oldest lie in America is that voting is our most important responsibility as citizens. It is very important, but it happens so infrequently, can it really be said to be the most important?
What are Americans under 18 supposed to do then? What are people who are prohibited from voting in some other way to do? We all pay taxes through sales tax and other use fees. Many undocumented people pay income tax without ever being able to call the police when they need help. We are all affected by who wins these elections. Do the disenfranchised still deserve a say in their representation? The powers that be would sure like you to think no. But the truth is, while Republicans fight to restrict voting access to poor minorities in Southern States and 30 some states never restore rights after a felony, we need not feel disenfranchised simply because voting is impossible.
Here are 3 big things anyone can do, that have been proven to sway elections:
#1 Donate to a candidate
Everyone hates how elections are funded by big donors. After elected, everyone’s got a list of priorities and and if they’re good enough at misdirection, they can do some pretty bad stuff while we’re not looking, to pay back their corporate donors.
Many people don’t know that people under 18 can donate to elections so long as it is knowingly and voluntarily with one’s own funds. In other words, parents can’t donate more that their $2,700 per candidate limit using their kids name. And people who have had their voting rights restricted or taken away can donate to campaigns. No problem.
Candidates use your contributions to organize rally’s, pay professionals, organize volunteers and run ads on everything from Facebook to billboards to television. It takes far too much money to run nationwide elections these days, mostly because everyone else is spending crazy amounts against you. But it can still be done with small donors. As of this writing, Bernie Sanders has built a small donor funnel larger than every in the history of the world and he’s beating every other candidate in national polls.
#2 Call voters in other states
As the primaries move across the country, it may seem like we’re waiting for a lot of other states to vote before we get a change to, and it is true that earlier states have more say as the field narrows. It also seems weird that every time we pick a president, it really comes down to how 3 states swing. Out of 50 states and 3 territories, it always seems to be Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania. So, why not use the wonders of modern communication to get out the vote in other states. Do you even remember long distance rates?
Every candidate has phone-bank parties before each primary in each state. They’re usually at someone’s house and a dozen or so people sit around eating and chatting and making calls to voters in the next state. Study’s have shown that voter turnout increases when people call, or walk door to door reminding them that it’s time to vote. This works for registering to vote or registering to run as a candidate as well. There’s a deadline for everything.
If you can’t make it to a phone-bank party, you can search Facebook for “friends of friends who live in Michigan,” for example. And privately message each of the people who show up. Say you have a mutual friend and you’re doing your part to get out the vote. Best of all, getting out the vote is non-partisan. The more people turn out, the more populist the candidate will end up being, regardless of party.
#3 Be the Media
There’s a notion that the main stream media is covering 2 candidates very well, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump get by far the most airtime, and ignoring Bernie and everyone else. This is true by minutes on television but we don’t live in 1970 or even the 1990s and even if CNN was the Clump news network, most people would only see those minutes waiting around the airport and even then usually on our phones. We all remember news from trusted sources and discount untrusted information. Our best friend sharing is usually less informed than a professional journalist on a major network garners a more open frame of mind. In our modern society, people share articles from outlets like U.S. Uncut and Redacted Tonight in the same way as articles from The New York Times and The Daily Show. The grassroots and the fundamentalists now have an equal chance of changing the conversation as the status quo.
By “be the media,” I of course, mean sharing on social media, but I also mean writing, commenting, adding your perspective to the story. People read comment threads after each article. We all need articles to share and fringe voices now have a chance to change the conversation. There’s so much space to make a difference against the status quo and the elite messaging that it’s almost overwhelming. But rest assured, it does affect the outcome of elections.
At some point, having more shares on social media does mean Bernie’s message is landing more often in the mind of people who use social media. It also means Trump’s message is landing more often. Early in the primary’s Bernie fans got made fun of because he was falling short of the polling. Meaning, shares and polls do not equal votes. You actually have to put your pants on to vote. It’s all about getting someone’s attention for long enough to deliver a message, even if that message is, yo, remember to vote. The powers that be have to spend obscene amounts of money to push a corporatist agenda. You can push a populist agenda for free.
It wasn’t until 1965 that the Constitution started protecting voting rights and even those are under attack. In recent years the Supreme Court has systematically dismantled voting rights so Republican states could disenfranchise poor and minority voters, they believe, will vote Democratic if given the chance. If you’re still lucky enough to have that right, you must use it this election. But it’s also 1 or 2 ballot every couple years.
(Incidentally, it’s also not “one person one vote,” like they’d have you believe. It’s one person one ballot and there are like 2 dozen votes per ballot. There’s even a back on the ballot, but that’s for another story.)
We sway elections everyday by becoming the donors and the activists and the journalists. There more we do it, the more we prove to everyone else that they can do it to. We put out racism and violence by standing together in peace and tolerance. You can do this every day no matter how old you are or how much they want you to think you’re disenfranchised.