There are still ways to be politically active and have an impact on the election, even if you’re unable to cast your ballot this year.
If you are under age 18, have a felony conviction, or aren’t a citizen of the United States, you may not be able to vote in the 2020 election, even if you’re passionate about the candidates and the issues.
However, on one of her Instagram Live sessions, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez discussed the many ways to remain politically involved while unable to vote. Donating your money, time, and relationships are all ways to make a difference that have a very real effect on the outcome of the election.
Here are five ways to make a difference in this election cycle without voting:
1. Help Other People Get To The Polls
While you may not be able to vote, you can help make sure other people can. The United States has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in developed nations, according to the Pew Research Center. Remind your friends to register to vote, volunteer to help register and engage voters through organizations like Rock the Vote, and even provide transportation for people who need help getting to their polling place on election day. Campaign offices and senior communities often look for volunteers to transport voters to and from the polls on election day.
2. Show Up To Protests And Rallies
Some of the biggest demonstrations in United States history have taken place over the last few years. Find rallies related to causes you are passionate about— the Facebook Events page is a great place to start— and plan to attend peacefully and safely. Bring water, sun protection, comfortable shoes, a mask, and hand sanitizer. Make a sign and bring your friends with you as you let your voice be heard and direct attention toward the issues you care about.
3. Reach Out To The Voters In Your Life
Even if you’re unable to vote, it’s very likely you know many people who can: co-workers, classmates, family, and friends.
“The beautiful thing about politics is that a lot of it is relational,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her Instagram Live. “There’s someone in your life, that maybe they won’t listen to anyone else, but you can get through to them.”
Ocasio-Cortez recommended making a list of five people in your life and reaching out to them, whether they’re on the fence about voting, need help getting to the polls, or need a reminder to register to vote. You can also talk to relatives, friends in swing states, or people in your church who don’t always vote.
4. Volunteer At Campaign Headquarters Or A Place That Benefits Your Community
If you don’t have money or voting power, give what you do have: time. Campaign headquarters in your city and county are just waiting for a message from you offering your time and talents. If you prefer to volunteer from home, find out about digital activism opportunities, like sending newsletters, text messages, and organizing online campaigns.
You can also use your volunteer work to support the causes most important to you so that every minute counts. Volunteer at a church, a homeless shelter, a climate change non-profit, a VA hospital, or help immigrants apply for jobs. Find ways to make a tangible impact on the causes you support. Voting isn’t the only way to make a change in your community— you can play a part too.
5. Donate Money
The New York Times recommends choosing among three ways to give: to a cause, a candidate, or a party. “Many Americans feel more passionate about issues than about politicians or parties,” said a recent New York Times article by Ian Prasad Philbrick and Nancy Wartik. If that’s the case for you, donate money to a cause you care about, whether it’s gun control or the Black Lives Matter movement. Use Charity Watch, a charity watchdog, to vet a charity before donating.
However, the article points out that giving directly to candidates can be the most emotionally rewarding experience for donors: “If your preferred candidate is new to politics, unlikely to win party endorsement or more ideologically extreme, it’s also often one of the more effective ways to help,” explains Philbrick. Even if you only donate a small amount, a financial donation can be a powerful way to support the causes and candidates you care about.
If you’re unable to vote in the 2020 U.S. election, these five ideas can inspire you to get involved and let your voice be heard. Of course, if you are eligible to vote, make sure to register to vote and cast your ballot on November 3rd. However you can help, we need you.