7 Ways to Be Politically Active This Fall Besides Just Voting

It might be Spooky Season, but we’re not letting it get any scarier because of a lack of participation. We all obviously focus on voting this November, and the importance of getting to the polls to cast your vote can’t be understated, but there are dozens of ways we can make sure our voices are heard. We’re going to speak with our vote this November, but we’re not letting that be all that we do.

Related: #OneVoteMatters: What It Takes To Win an Election

1. Make an Election Day plan

In 2016, the highest cited reason eligible voters didn’t go to the polls was transportation. Uber and Lyft are working to stop this by partnering with #VoteTogether and offering free rides to the polls on Election Day, so take advantage of it! Beyond just transportation, we all have busy schedules and it can be easy to let time get away from us and not make it to the polls before they close, but we’re over that. Look at your schedule and map out time to go to the polls either before class or work, during lunch, or afterward (if that’s before 7 p.m.!). It’s also always a good idea to check online and make sure you know your polling place because the last thing we need is a mad dash to another polling place-- especially if we’re on a time crunch.

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2. Remind your friends and family to do the same

We’ve spent the last who knows how many months harassing everyone around us to make sure they’re registered to vote, and now that we’re getting closer to November 6th, we’re shifting focus to what they’re doing on Election Day. We’re more than happy to start a carpool if it means more people make it out to the polls, and we’re happy to admit it. It’s never been more imperative for everyone to shake off their political apathy and make their voices heard, and we’re ready to see it happen.

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Related: #OneVoteMatters: Your Guide to Off-Campus Voting

3. Don’t just donate money, donate your time

The fact of the matter is if we don’t go out and make calls with phone banks and knock on doors with canvassers our candidates will not win. The role of these volunteers isn’t to really to try and convince people who to vote for, it’s to make sure we know the election is coming, who is running and where we can get information. If they end up voting for the candidate they’re supporting, then that’s just an extra benefit. But remember, if you get a phone call or a text message from a volunteer, they’re not robots and they’re not talking just to try and spread propaganda. Be nice!

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4. Go to debates or town halls in your district

These are fantastic opportunities to see the candidates up close and personal, get an overview of all the issues at play and see how they conduct themselves with their opponents. We all remember the infamous 2016 Presidential Debates, and we don’t want any of that kind of toxic energy in our political offices. The way a candidate interacts with people that don’t agree with their opinions, whether it’s a voter raising a question or their opponent, is far more telling than how they act around their supporters.

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5. Be open to learning more about issues — even if it challenges your stance on it

Every opinion on a topic is subject to change and grow if we allow it to. Many of us cling very tightly to our party identification of choice, even as both parties move further down their respective sides of the political spectrum and the majority of Americans stay at the relative center of the spectrum. As a whole, we focus much more heavily on our differences, but when we really get down to thinking about our stances on issues we’re surprised about how similar we actually are. The biggest thing we can all do is focus less on what party supports what stance on an issue and more on how we actually feel about it. We’ve been making it a priority to get news and information not just from sources that support our opinions, but also from those that challenge us to think differently about it and potentially learn something new about not just the issue, but also about ourselves.

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Related: #OneVoteMatters: Why Mason Women Are Voting This Year

6. Talk about the election and political issues publicly

We all have a platform, especially today. Whether you can publish articles online, make a tweet or post, or just engage in political discussions with friends and family, we all have the opportunity to share our political views or to engage in a productive, and hopefully respectful, debate with someone with different opinions. The biggest thing we have to gain from raising our voices and using our platform isn’t the opportunity to attack someone’s ideas or push our own onto others. In fact, this is by far the least productive thing you can do, and it definitely won’t do anything to help our political climate, but simply to facilitate discussion and encourage others to develop their own opinions. People on all sides of the political spectrum love to complain about the toxicity that can come along with political discussions, but most of us aren’t treating differing opinions (or the person behind them) with any kind of respect or understanding. The validity of someone’s viewpoints should not be mutually exclusive with your agreement with them, and we all have a part to play in changing that.

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7. Don’t stop caring on November 6th

It’s all too common for people to be politically active right around Election Day, sometimes only even voting in Presidential Elections, but the government doesn’t just press pause until the next election rolls around. The issues that we are outspoken about right not matter just as much the rest of the year. It’s our responsibility to hold our politicians accountable not just once every few years, but it’s time for that to change. Keep up with the news regardless of how discouraging it can sometimes be, watch what the candidates you supported -- or didn’t, depending on how the upcoming elections turned out -- to see if they’re following through on campaign promises and working in the interests of their constituents. If we don’t take it upon ourselves to be educated and informed all year, no one else will.

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Every November, we can’t help but think of all the people around us who aren’t able to vote or have fought for our right to be able to cast our ballots, and we owe it not only to ourselves but to them to do more than just make it to the polls on November 6th -- but we’re definitely doing that too.