How Can Students Pitch in This Election (Covid-19 Edition)?

If this year was anything like previous election years, this month and the next few days would have been a time of frenzy: campaigners hurrying door to door, landlines ringing nonstop, and local polling centers rushing to get everything in place for the big day. However, as it has with nearly every other aspect of our normal lives, Covid-19 has changed everything. 

In this pivotal election, more than ever before, citizens are voting early, and campaigns have gone virtual. Polling locations have had to take Covid-19 public health measures and risks into consideration when setting up. With this in mind, how can college students help without putting anybody in harm’s way?

  1. 1. Vote and encourage your friends and family to make their voice heard, as well.

    mail in ballot envelope with pen

    According to Forbes, only about 48% of eligible college students voted in 2016. Being an informed voter and encouraging others to vote is one of the most direct actions you can take to pitch in this election. Candidates’ websites and platforms are great ways to learn about key policies and goals for the country.

  2. 2. Become a campaign caller.

    woman on phone in a coffee shop

    At a time when going door to door encouraging citizens to vote is not possible, political phone banking has become a necessary alternative. You can check with your local campaign groups if this seems like something you are interested in.

  3. 3. Donate to the candidate that you support.

    Whether you support Joe Biden, Donald Trump, or a third party candidate, donating to the candidate whose policies and goals you support is another way to make your voice heard. You can find the official donation links on the candidates’ websites

  4. 4. Work the polls (safely)!

    polling station

    This is a great way to not only help out at the individual level, but also help the overall election effort. You can check if your local polling centers have enough volunteers through the United States Election Assistance Commision’s website. Another great way to help is volunteering with your local Medical Reserve Corps. MRCs have been staffing polling locations as Infection Control Ambassadors to assist with infection mitigation measures.

  5. 5. Join a youth community initiative in your area.

    There are several groups for politically active high school and college students who are dedicated to creating lasting change in their communities. For example, the Rochester Community Initiative was founded by students in Rochester, Minnesota. This group creates resources and action plans regarding the change they want to see in their locality and country. Leading up to election day, this group has been active in educating their community about voter empowerment. I interviewed Rachel Zhang, the Operations Officer of the Rochester Community Initiative. In the interview and an article she wrote for TeenVogue, she discusses her involvement with politics as a Bernie Sanders delegate at the DNC and common misconceptions college students have about getting involved with local and national politics