15 Ways You Can Make A Difference in the 2016 Elections
Where do the 2016 presidential candidates stand on climate change? If you watched the primary debates earlier this spring, especially those among the Republican candidates, you’d have no idea, because the moderators never asked them.
With three debates now looming between Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, and Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, America wants to know: How important is climate change to the candidates, and how do they propose to address it?
To make sure they get asked the question, Moms Clean Air Force is encouraging its members (you!) to sign a petition asking NBC’s Lester Holt, the moderator of the first debate on September 26, to “ask the nominees to make known — for the entire country and the world — their stance on climate change and global warming.”
“Americans routinely rank climate change and its effects above education, immigration, taxes, and much more when considering voting priorities,” notes our petition. “If we are to inform America on the most important issues, climate change must be addressed on the debate stage.”
Please sign the petition and circulate it to your friends, family, and social networks.
- Canvas Door-to-Door – Of the many ways you can help persuade undecided voters, knocking on their doors is evidently the most effective. My current state senator, Jamie Raskin, is running to replace Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in this election. In April, before our state primary, I knocked on a lot of doors on Jamie’s behalf. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but when our state attorney general, Brian Frosh, came to campaign headquarters to give us a pep talk, he said it was the number one most powerful way to convince undecided voters to support our candidate.
- Volunteer at a Phone Bank – Phone banks can be a lot of fun. They’re usually set up in offices that have been filled with telephones and access to a computer so you can easily make a call and also record the results of the call. Sometimes you get through to the voter and have a good conversation. Sometimes people remain undecided. Either way, you’ve made “voter contact” that may help boost turnout. Plus, phone banks usually have great snacks!
- Phone Bank from Your Own Home – If you can’t get to an actual phone bank, campaigns may set up a digital system you can log into from your home computer. On the weekends, calls might be made between 10 a.m. and 6 or 7 p.m. During the week, calls are often made in the afternoon up until 9 p.m. You can sign up for as much or as little time as you have available.
- Host a House Party – If you’re in a community where you know there are a lot of undecided voters, host a house party. Invite your neighbors in to discuss what they care about, and make sure you know where your candidate stands on the most important issues at stake. Here are the candidate’s websites: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Some local candidates may drop by your house party to meet voters and answer questions!
- Attend a Candidate Debate – Though it’s difficult to score tickets for the presidential debates, it’s much easier to get into a debate among candidates running for state and Congressional office, like governor or U.S. Senator. Attending a debate gives you a lot of credibility when you do other kinds of voter contact. You can say, “I was at the debate, and I was struck by Candidate X’s approach to solving this problem you care so much about.” Plus, it’s so cool to be in the room.
- Help Register People to Vote – No matter how much money candidates spend on ads, only one thing really matters on Election Day, and that’s how many people vote. Clearly, the more people who are registered to vote, the better. Rock theVote lists voter registration deadlines in every state. Guac the Vote is a new initiative by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to register voters at taco trucks! Also, contact your local League of Women Voters and check out Clean Air Moms Action to find out how you can help.
- Drive Voters to the Polls – Many elderly and ailing people would happily vote if they could only get to the polls. You can provide a real service on Election Day and during early voting if you offer to drive people to their polling place.
- Hand Out Literature at the Polls – You’d be surprised how many people show up to vote on Election Day and still don’t know who they’ll vote for. When they stop to chat, you can help secure their vote by asking if they knew a surprising fact about the candidate, answer whatever questions they still have, and hand out your candidate’s literature.
- Wear a Button – This is maybe the easiest way to promote a candidate. Yet it’s also very effective. It’s non-confrontational but a very obvious way to show your support for the person you’re trying to elect.
- Put Out a Lawn Sign – This is on par with wearing a button, but this might reach even more people if your sign goes up on a busy corner where people can see it coming from all directions. Be aware of local ordinances that may restrict sign placement.
- Slap on a Bumper Sticker – A bumper sticker is your car’s equivalent of a button, though because you reach so many more people when you drive, the impact might actually be much greater. This article makes a pretty persuasive case for bumper stickers.
- Use Your Social Media Clout – Facebook and Twitter are great ways to share opinions, both about candidates’ positions and about the importance of voting. You can share pictures of yourself campaigning on Instagram and Pinterest, and encourage your friends to do the same.
- Donate – Every campaign needs money. You are able to donate during the general election up to the $2500.00 maximum. Even if you can’t bring yourself to write a check, chip in a few bucks to pay for the gas someone may need to drive to a neighborhood to canvas or vote.
- Babysit for Someone Who is Volunteering – Want to canvas or phone bank but don’t know what to do with the kids? Find a friend in the same boat and share childcare duties.
- Vote – the Earlier, the Better! – Obviously, the single most important thing you can do to support your candidate is to vote. If, for some reason you can’t vote in person the day of the election, apply for an absentee ballot so you can still make your preference count. Get an absentee ballot HERE. If you want to avoid election-day crowds or intend to spend the day getting out the vote, vote a week or two in advance. Vote.org lists early voting options state by state HERE.