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WASHINGTON— The year 2020 has been unprecedented thus far. While it isn’t the first global pandemic that the United States has weathered, it is the first time it has happened during an election year.

Amidst health concerns and postal delays fueled by COVID-19, it is important that everyone puts in the work in order to secure the election in November! Here are some ways to do your part.

Request Your Ballots NOW!

Many states have already issued ballot warnings notifying voters that their ballots might not reach election offices on time. That means voters choosing mail-in or absentee ballots need to request, complete, and return their ballots as soon as possible in order for it to count. Many states have also revised their ballot guidelines to allot six to seven days for delivery; however, some voters are urging others to return their ballots as early as two weeks prior to election day.

Ballots are trackable! Tracking begins with the ballot request and continues until it is received by your local election office. If you’re concerned that local postal services won’t be able to deliver your ballot in time, locate your local election office; your ballot will be accepted there.

Ballots can be requested here: https://www.vote.org/absentee-ballot/

Make Sure Others Are registered to Vote and Have a Voting Plan.

Regardless of your political affiliation, anyone who can vote should vote. Beyond national elections, voting at the state and local levels can drastically affect your community in areas including funding for education and police reform. Also, voter registration is the only way to be included on a jury.

Whether you choose to vote by mail or by person, every eligible voter should make a plan to safely vote during this election. It is crucial to have the necessary conversations with your friends and family about the power and importance of voting, and you can be the voice to plant the seed.

Register to vote here: https://www.vote.org/register-to-vote/

Check your registration status here: https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/

Consider becoming a poll worker.

In elections prior to 2020, most poll workers were older- typically retired- members of the community. However, due to COVID-19, many workers have pulled out due to safety concerns. This, consequently, leads to a nationwide poll worker shortage, which can ultimately affect the number of open polling locations and the accessibility of those locations.

Young people are in a unique position to fill in these gaps. With more workers, more polling locations can remain open and voting lines can move faster, making the process more accessible to working class voters. Also, poll workers in most states are paid, so, if you are willing and able, strongly consider signing up!

Help power the polls here: https://www.powerthepolls.org/

Though COVID-19 has changed the ways we approach voting, it has not taken away our right to make our voices heard. It is up to us to secure our votes; however, the challenges are not impossible to overcome when we come together.

Kira Cofield

Howard '21

Kira Cofield is a senior at Howard University studying Public Relations, Political Science, and Spanish. She has interned at Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council for the past 3 years during her breaks and is shadowing with Brownstone PR, a public relations firm based in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. She currently serves as the treasurer for the Howard University Community Choir, one of the university’s gospel choirs. She is also a writer for Her Campus at Howard and involved in the Howard Chapters of the NAACP and PRSSA. Kira was born and raised in Philadelphia, Penn., and attended one of the best high schools in the state. She came to Howard impassioned by the presidential election in 2016, which led her to study politics. By the end of her sophomore year, Kira realized that she had no desire to be a politician although she loved studying politics. However, she would use her knowledge and switch to communications; and she specifically chose public relations because of its breadth and essentiality in all fields of work, giving her the freedom to find a brand or company that she truly loves.
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