News of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis has spread like wildfire since hitting the interwebs last night. After several months of bad judgement and poor handling of the pandemic, in addition to over 200,000 loved ones lost, it’s no wonder people are fixating on this news. With 32 days until the election, there are many unknowns and with an administration that has struggled with truth-telling, it is unclear if the public will get real answers or just more fodder for hypothetical doomsday scenarios.
In unpredictable times like these, self-care and taking a few moments to breathe before moving forward are important. So consume your news, feel what you need to feel, and then check out these five things you can do related to the election right now.
1. Check your voter registration ASAP
Several states have voter registration deadlines in the next few days. Some states have different deadlines depending on whether you register in person, by mail, or online where available. In-person voter registration ends today in South Carolina, but you can apply online until Sunday, Oct. 4. Make sure your registration is current and your address is up to date.
Voter registration deadlines coming up in the next week:
Oct. 4 - Alaska, Rhode Island, and South Carolina (online)
Oct. 5 - Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas
Oct. 6 - Arkansas and New Mexico
Oct. 7 - Missouri
Oct. 9 - New York, North Carolina, and Oklahoma
2. Figure out your voting plan
Knowing when, where, and how you plan to vote helps minimize delays and potential obstacles to casting your ballot. Whether you are voting by mail or in-person, make sure you understand the requirements for your chosen form of voting and that you have completed all the steps for your vote to count. For voters in states that require voter ID, check to see what forms of ID can be used for casting your vote.
Also, if you are planning to vote in person, consider taking advantage of the early voting period if your state provides for one. As we’ve seen in previous years, record turnout and major elections often lead to long lines, machine hiccups, and other possible mishaps.
3. Commit to combating misinformation by sharing good, verifiable information
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams once said, “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.” Adams’ quote could not be more relevant right now. Disinformation is a real and present threat to what is remaining of this democracy. We, the people, can take steps to fight disinformation and prioritize sharing good verifiable information. It's easy for misinformation to spread while reputable news sources and officials check their facts. Bonus points for shutting down xenophobic statements about COVID-19 or China.
Be careful with citing and sharing polls. Remember: While polls can be an important source of information, they don’t vote—people do.
And support nonprofit news organizations lIke Prism that are committed to elevating stories of people who are more reflective of our communities and cutting through the talking head jargon.
4. Sign up to be a poll worker
If you are willing and able, consider volunteering to be a poll worker during early voting or on Election Day. Poll workers serve an important role in the democratic process. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a push to recruit people as young as 16 years old to volunteer at the polls. Check out Work Elections to find out more about how you can
There are other ways you can help on or before Election Day. Nonpartisan civic engagement organizations across the country rely in part on volunteer support during these critical times. You can sign up to be a line warmer or comfort captain, making sure that those who have to wait in line have what they need until they are admitted to cast their ballot. Also, some organizations may need help fielding calls for election protection hotlines. The Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights operates 866-Our-Vote, a national election protection hotline.
5. Drink water. Take a deep breath. Don’t forget to eat.
Because everyone needs oxygen and hydration, and it’s better to make decisions on a full stomach.