Today is Election Day, and most Americans are really, really anxious. Almost 70 percent say the election has been a “significant source of stress,” according to the American Psychological Association (a 40 percent increase from 2016), and for good reason. At stake is another four years of a president who refuses to condemn white-supremacist groups, stokes violence, and downplays a pandemic that has killed over 200,000 Americans. Trump has also threatened to reject the results if he doesn’t win. That could mean a messy court battle, mass protests in the streets, and, in the worst-case scenario, a complete overturn of democracy.
While it may be tempting to bury your head under blankets until the results come in, there are still ways you can help defeat Trump throughout the next 24 hours (and in the coming days.) Here are six actions to take:
Vote, and make everyone you know vote.
It’s obvious but supremely important: Make sure you cast a ballot. (Almost 40 percent of eligible voters didn’t participate in the 2016 election.) First off, double-check that you’re registered. Then, figure out where you’re voting, along with the kind of ID you need, which varies by state.
Once you’ve figured out your own plan, it’s time to help others get to the polls. Keep encouraging your family and friends to vote, which research shows is the best way to engage cynical or apathetic people. You can also download an app called VoteWithMe, which searches your contact list and highlights people in swing states whose votes could have the most impact. All you have to do is send them a reminder text.
Register to vote.
Even if you’re not registered yet, you can still register in person in 21 states today.
Reach people in battleground states.
A handful of swing states, like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Georgia, will determine who wins the 2020 election. Organizations like Swing Left and Mobilize have made it easy to join phone and text banks to make sure voters in key states cast a ballot; all you have to do is pick a time slot today and do a quick Zoom training. If you speak Spanish, that’s a bonus.
If you’re looking to go beyond get-out-the-vote calls, there are options. You can sign up to persuade undecided voters by doing “deep canvassing,” which involves personal conversations about a person’s beliefs and prejudices (there are still opportunities to speak over the phone with potential voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Arizona).
Help protect voting rights.
Republicans are actively fighting to suppress the vote, most recently by asking the Supreme Court for restrictions on the deadline for mail-in ballots. But you can help make sure everyone’s vote is fairly counted. While in many states it’s too late to sign up to be a poll worker or monitor, the Democratic Party has set up voter-protection phone banks. Places like Wisconsin and North Carolina need volunteers to make sure people know how to fill out absentee ballots, and how to fix rejected ballots.
Some states and legal organizations have set up Election Day hotlines and need volunteers to answer voter questions and complaints. (Election Protection is a good place to contact.) You can also apply to be a social-media monitor, which involves scanning platforms like Facebook and Twitter for disinformation and voter problems, like suppression or intimidation.
Order pizza to the polls.
There are lots of ways you can make sure people in your neighborhood or wider community participate in this election. You can share information with your neighbors about your voting location and wait times. Offer them rides to polling stations if you have or can rent a car. Let people know that they can save 50 percent on Lyft rides with the code 2020VOTE or that the organization More Than a Vote is organizing free rides in cities like Philadelphia, Houston, and Orlando. And perhaps my favorite suggestion of all: Donate or report long lines to Pizza to the Polls, Feed the Polls or Vote.org, organizations that will send over reinforcements so no one gets too hangry to vote.
Make plans for after Election Day.
Trump has said multiple times that he won’t accept a Biden presidency, so it’s time to steel yourself for that reality. Prepare to be part of a movement to protest and take action if the president loses and refuses to step down. The organizations Mobilize and Protect the Results will both be compiling information about virtual and in-person events — and they are predicting a strong need for mass mobilization on November 4. Also keep an eye on updates from legal organizations like Protect Democracy and the Campaign Legal Center, whose lawyers are preparing to defend democracy in the event of contested election results and may need your help.
This post has been updated.