7 Things to Do If You Can’t Vote

As someone who’s not a citizen of the United States, I feel a certain disconnect to the people around me whenever a midterm or presidential election rolls around. It’s hard to care so much about causes and situations around me and feel like I can’t do anything (officially) to help combat injustice. At first, this was isolative and tiring, and I felt utterly helpless. As I’ve grown as a person, I’ve found ways to make a political impact in the United States without voting, and I’ve come to learn how important it is for me, a non-voter, to contribute to political activism.  

1. Volunteer for a campaign that aligns with your beliefs.

 Signing up is easy! Campaign websites usually streamline the entire process for you. Taken from Justin Kanew for Tennessee Congress.

This is a great way to get involved and directly have an impact on the community around you. Make sure to do your research and look at some candidates that stand for what you believe in, and get in contact with their campaign (usually through their websites, but for smaller campaigns, I’ve come in direct contact with campaign managers). Nowadays, a lot of campaigns accept help from all over the nation —  the world, even. You can volunteer remotely (phone banking) or in person (door-to-door, advertising, etc.). Get some friends together for an hour and two and call, text, tweet, and canvas for a candidate!

2. Organize!

A picture from my high school’s walkout on March 14th, 2018.

This is something I did a lot of in high school. After the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida a couple of friends and I organized a walkout on March 14th in our largely politically inactive high school. We encouraged our peers to register to vote and to participate in local politics, whether it was volunteering or having conversations with their parents and friends. I also took part in organizing a town hall, where local candidates and representatives came to talk about gun control. This is another way to rally people together and motivate others to vote. Even though you might not be able to, getting others to vote is just as powerful.

3. Use your privilege.

 If you’re someone who has privilege in comparison to others — use it!

This is applicable to people who are at an economic advantage, are white, male, cisgender, straight, or able-bodied. Stand up for people who don’t have the same advantages as you. Listen to their struggles, ask them what they need, and start conversations. Make yourself aware of the oppression that’s happening around you, and be a part of ending it.

4. Let your voice be heard.

Photo 4: Your voice and your opinion matters.

Don’t ever let people tell you your voice doesn’t matter because you’re undocumented, underage, a convicted felon, or not a citizen of this country. Take part in marches, protest for what you believe in, and contact your representatives. I know this can be scary for some people, and if you can’t do those things, I promise that others will speak for you. You are not alone in this.

5. Fundraise, fundraise, fundraise!

Get a group of friends together and fundraise for a chosen political organization or campaign.

Sometimes, campaigns or organizations need money to advertise, get legal counsel, or continue to do what they’re already doing. You can easily organize something at your school or in your community to help them in their goals. For some of these campaigns, every dollar really does count, especially the ones that don’t take money from bigger institutions. Some organizations such as Black Lives Matter or Me Too might need help to hire lawyers for important court cases. Either way, fundraising can always help the person you’re helping.  

6. Get friends, family, and others to vote.

 Just because you can’t vote, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help the people around you to vote and exercise their rights.

If you can get two, five, or eight people to vote, that’s already worth so much more than your singular vote would have. Even if you need to sit them down and help them through the entire process of registration, filling in the absentee ballot, or driving them to the nearest polling place, it’s worth it if their vote is cast. Even though you’re not the one getting the “I Voted!” sticker, you deserve it for making the effort and helping the ones around you.

7. Take care of yourself.

Credit to @drawingsofdogs on Instagram

Political activism is tiring, and you can easily get overwhelmed with everything that’s happening the world. The events and news that flash constantly across the screens of our phones are overbearing and sometimes can emotionally burden you. Remember to take a step back and take care of yourself before throwing yourself back into the movement. Meditate, take baths, get a massage, and treat yourself to snacks. These might seem simple, but in the long run, they’ll help you connect with yourself. At the end of the day, your mental health has to be a bigger priority than anything else around you, so it’s good to stop and take a deep breath and remind yourself of who you are.

Don’t let the fact that you can’t vote stop you from furthering your political activism and impact. In a country full of turmoil and division, every voice matters, no matter your gender, race, sexual preference, religion, economic status, or background. Get out there and change the world, because you can.

 

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