The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is certainly a reason to mourn, but the best way we can honor her legacy is to ensure that as many of us as possible vote in this election.
Brilliant. Passionate. Notorious.
Last month, we didn’t just lose a Supreme Court Justice, we lost a beloved icon. Someone larger than life who served as a role model, not only for women, but for everyone.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, was a force to be reckoned with. Small but mighty, she challenged the status quo with her memorable dissents during a nearly 40-year tenure on the federal bench.
Because of RBG, women gained the right to financial independence with the ability to apply for their own bank account, credit card, and home mortgage. She narrowed the pay gap between men and women and brought us closer to equal pay (sadly, we’re still not there yet). From supporting women in the military to ensuring women serve on juries, RBG paved the way for many of the rights women often don’t give a second thought to today.
RBG also recognized that discrimination exists beyond gender and social norms. By expanding the concept of discrimination, she was instrumental in making same-sex marriage and other protections for the LBGTQ community possible. Ever mindful of marginalized and underrepresented groups, she served as an advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, advocating for their rights to live among communities, not institutions. RBG even argued cases in which men had been discriminated against, with one prominent case becoming the premise of the biographical film On The Basis Of Sex.
RBG’s philosophy was profound in its simplicity: equality for all.
Not just equality in theory, equality in legislation. There’s a difference. People and politicians can claim to support equality, but only when action is taken can true constitutionally-protected equality become law. Until then, “we the people” are not equal. That is a fact.
From recent headlines to the presidential debate (travesty?) last week, no doubt you’re witnessing what happens to a democracy when facts no longer matter and the truth begins to erode. Injustice not only exists, it perpetuates. Under Trump and the current administration, equality for all doesn’t have a chance.
We’re a month out from the most critical election in our nation’s history. If you’ve been waiting or wondering when to get involved, now is the time. Each of us has a role to play to save our democracy. To begin the end of systematic racism, gender bias, homophobia, and all forms of discrimination in this country. To move closer to RBG’s vision of a better America – one that’s not only equitable, but smarter, kinder, and more empathetic.
Equality for all starts when we take action. Let’s honor RBG’s legacy and get out the vote in whatever way we can.
Getting out the vote can be as simple or as multi-faceted as you want it to be, from increasing visibility through tactics like putting out a yard sign, posting on social media, or creating a Tik Tok video, to registering voters, phone banking, and writing letters (see below for more info).
One of the most impactful ways of getting out the vote simply comes down to having conversations. According to Tova Wang, Democracy Visiting Fellow at the Ash Center and a member of the Universal Voting Working Group, having one-on-one conversations with people who you’re close to is the most effective way to change someone’s mind about voting and registering to vote. She adds, “The other proven way to help people is to create a plan for how you’re going to register [and] how you’re going to vote. Do it with a friend; do it with family member, so it’s not just you, and then follow those steps.” (Source: The Harvard Gazette)
Politics has long been considered a “taboo” topic in American society, but we can no longer afford to be silent about what’s happening in this country. Normalize the topic of voting in everyday conversation.
As the saying goes, democracy is not a spectator sport. For it to work, everyone must participate – that includes YOU. Whether you make it a solo mission or gather your friends for a virtual #GOTV effort, just do something — anything. From now until November 3, ask yourself, Have I done something today? Can I do more? And then do it and keep doing it.
Below are ways you can take action, locally and nationally, right now. Check back as this list is continuously being updated. For a state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19, check out FiveThirtyEight’s How To Vote In The 2020 Election.
Faithful Citizens is a year-round civic engagement program that emphasizes the fullest participation of people of faith in the electoral process. On Monday, October 5th, they’re kicking off 30 days of GOTV which includes peer-to-peer texting/emailing using the OutVote app and registering first time voters (primarily high schools, college campuses, and youth groups).
Learn More: Virginia Interfaith Center Civic Engagement or email: Dora Muhammad, Congregation Engagement Director.
NextGen America (formerly NextGen Climate) is a diverse coalition of young people who seek to identify, engage, and mobilize people under the age of 35 who are less than likely to vote or who are not currently registered to vote. The NGVA Richmond team is doing weekly phonebanks to call voters (typically using Slack and ThruTalk), recruit volunteers, and mobilize the #youthvote. Sign up on the website to get started.
Learn More: NextGen America
PROM AT THE POLLS
Prom At The Polls is a national grassroots student-led event focused on giving students the unique prom that they deserve, while also encouraging them to vote. Proms all over the country were cancelled this year, so this initiative inspires groups of friends to dress up and take their party to the polls, make voting the next best thing.
Learn More: Prom At The Polls
PROTECT THE VOTE
The Virginia Civic Engagement Table’s nonpartisan Election Protection work is built around ensuring all Virginians have equitable access to the ballot so people can cast their votes safely and without confusion or intimidation. Volunteer opportunities include being a part of the Sign Team (distributing yard signs at polling locations) and being a Poll Monitor (assisting voters at polling locations).
Learn more: Virginia Civic Engagement Table
This documentary, directed by Cheryl Jacobs Clim, follows a diverse group of grassroots activists working tirelessly to defend democracy and stop the erosion of civil rights. The website also offers an informative Voter Toolkit as your ultimate guide to voting in the 2020 Presidential Election. Get yourself (and others) informed, inspired, and ready to take action with voter FAQs, relevant links, shareable social media content, and inspiring films/stories.
Learn More: Resisterhood
ROCK THE VOTE
Rock the Vote is the most trusted and effective nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to building the political power of young people. Their Relational Organizing initiative is based on the premise that when people reach out to their friends about voting, their friends engage in the political process like never before. Join their GOTV efforts using their Empower app to immediately add 10 friends and family names and phone numbers and get started.
Learn More: Rock The Vote
VOTE EQUALITY TOUR
VoteEqualityUS is a nonpartisan grassroots effort promoting equality for all Americans. On September 26, the Vote Equality RV, a.k.a. “The Notorious RVG” (Ruthless Vote Getter), set off on a statewide tour to get out the vote on college campuses and in local communities. In addition to the GOTV tour, VoteEqualityUS offers many ways to raise awareness on gender equality including essay contests, legal symposiums, and general advocacy.
Learn More: VoteEqualityUS
Vote Forward is a national letter writing initiative to encourage unregistered and low-propensity voters to vote. Handwritten letters have been proven to be one of the most effective ways to increase election turnout. Sign up on their website and once approved, you can start writing letters to voters in different states using their pre-made templates. It’s easy and straightforward. Plus, buying stamps supports the USPS. “The Big Send” mail date is Saturday, October 17.
Learn More: Vote Forward / “The Big Send”
VOTE SAVE AMERICA
Vote Save America is a one-stop-shop for information and tools to get out the vote, brought to you by Crooked Media (the guys from Pod Save America). Their “Adopt A State” initiative lets you choose one of the key battleground states (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) to support so you can help voters make their decision and get them to the polls on Election Day – all from the comfort of your own home.
Learn More: Vote Save America
Women’s March will be holding a socially distant national march on Saturday, October 17 in Washington D.C., along with sister marches across the country, to send an unmistakable message about the fierce opposition to Trump and his agenda, including his attempt to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat. In 2017, women made history when millions came together in the streets of Washington D.C. to make the resistance clear. Pledge to join the October 17 march in DC here.
Learn more: Women’s March
YWCA has put together a comprehensive Get Out The Vote Guide of ways to get involved outlining opportunities to register, educate, and mobilize voters in your community, whatever your capacity level may be. They have made it an imperative to prioritize GOTV activities that will empower historically marginalized communities and ensure that women — especially women of color — are able to fully exercise their fundamental right to vote on November 3rd.
Learn more: YWCA GOTV Guide
SHARE ON SOCIAL
Spread the word on the importance of voting with these ready-to-share social media kits:
Inspired by the controversy over mail-in voting, Chris and Elizabeth Knudson of local music project LightBody Sound created the “got mail?” shop to advocate for voting rights with 25 percent of proceeds going to the Stacey Abrams-helmed voting rights and advocacy organization, “Fair Fight.”
As a husband and father of two daughters, creative director and former pro skateboarder Bernie O’Dowd felt the need to take action. He created a series of RBG art prints, tee shirts, and other swag, with 100% of the profits going to Flip The Senate.
KEEP AN EYE OUT
A new mural collaboration featuring our future vice president created by muralist Nico Cathcart and fiber artist Michael-Birch Pierce in Brookland Park to inspire getting out the vote. Very Instagram-worthy.
Stop The Shit Show
A guerrilla campaign created by the creative department at Yebo featuring a punk band-inspired sticker designed by Ken McIntyre and featuring a QR code that leads to the Virginia voter registration site with important dates leading up to the election.
Got a GOTV initiative to share? Send an email to: [email protected]
For valuable information about how to stay safe while voting in person, please visit https://www.safety.com/public/coronavirus/how-to-stay-safe-if-youre-voting-in-person/