How To Get Involved In Local Politics, Whether You're An Overachiever Or Lazy AF
So, you're fired up. The midterms are almost here, but they can't come soon enough. You've done your research, know your candidates, and want to vote right now. Since you've still got some time to wait, why not channel all that energy into volunteering? Tons of people all over the country are getting involved in the midterm elections, because they believe they can make a change. And you can join in.
According to a poll that MTV and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted in April, 46 percent of people ages 15 to 34 — millennials, looking at you — believe that they can affect the government. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s actually an increase from the same poll two months before, when only 37 percent of people in that age range thought they could have any effect on government.
There’s a lot going on, and it’s easy to get hyped about the possibility of making a difference. Good news: You have a ton of options to do that. It all depends on exactly what you want to do, what kind of commitment you want to make, and honestly, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert.
How can I convince more people to vote?
If you think it’s really important for as many people as possible to vote in November, you probably want to help register new voters. You can look for a voter registration drive near you, or you can organize one yourself.
Check out the Election Toolkit’s handy starter kit to help organizers plan and promote their voter registration drives. You can use their starter kit, or one like it, to get yourself and your friends set up to register new voters.
Just make sure you check the relevant regulations in your state beforehand. There are rules regarding registering new voters, and you want to make sure you’re on the right side of the law here.
What else can I do beyond registering more people to vote?
You also can volunteer at your local election office. A lot of people head to the polls in November, and many districts need extra workers to help with their workload.
If your lifestyle is way more last-minute, wake up your roommates so they can go vote before work.
That sounds kind of intense. Is there anything else I can do?
On Election Day, you can volunteer with Carpool Vote to drive other voters to the polls. You can also volunteer with Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan nonprofit that focuses on politically engaging young people. Whether you’re passionate about graphic design or love doing research, you can put your skills and interests to work for civic engagement.
I already know a candidate that I'm really passionate about. How can I specifically help them?
Volunteer for their campaign! Just get in touch with the campaign’s office and ask. Or if you’d prefer a more low-key approach, most candidates have a big “VOLUNTEER” button right on their websites. Just make sure staffers have a way to reach you — that means handing over your phone number or email address — and start thinking about what kind of volunteering you're game to do. Whether you love talking on the phone, posting on social media, or just want a yard sign to declare your support, you’ll find an option that’s right for you.
I like being active. What’s the best way for me to volunteer?
You’re a rare gem who might fall in love with canvassing. If you decide to canvass for a candidate you support, you’ll be going door-to-door and talking directly with voters about that candidate. You’ll be provided with a list of households to visit and a script for what to say once that door opens.
What can I do on Election Day?
You can volunteer to work the polls, where you might be asked to help set up the polling place before voters start to arrive, demonstrate how equipment works, answer questions, and close up at the end of the night. Just get in touch with your local election office to find out more and apply.
If you do want to volunteer at the polls or carpool with other voters, though, make sure you set that all in motion way before you wake up on Nov. 6. If your lifestyle is way more last-minute, wake up your roommates so they can go vote before work. Grab a friend to go to the polls with so that neither of you has an excuse to flake. Or plan a post-vote brunch: Everything’s better with avocado, and that includes voting.