2020 Election: Use Your Voice by Demanding The Vote

2020+Election%3A+Use+Your+Voice+by+Demanding+The+Vote

Ellie Robert, Senior Class Editor

“[Highschoolers should be active in politics] because this is your life. To be active in politics is to be actively engaged in how your community evolves… Getting involved gives you a sense of investment in your community. Quite simply, you care what happens,” Calvin Starnes said. “But, if no one invests their time and energy into voting or volunteering or campaigning, if ‘no one cares’ then you risk a small minority making the decisions for the majority. An equitable representational democracy only works if as many voices as possible are heard.” Calvin Starnes is a current volunteer and organizer at Demand The Vote, a group formed in December of 2016 that aims to ensure everyone has access to the ballot box. Their current website provides information for voters on a range of information, from online registration to early voting and absentee voting, helping citizens use their voice in government and work towards a better future. 

According to Starnes, Demand The Vote does not currently have any volunteer opportunities, but the Demand The Vote website does offer various links for people of all ages to find volunteer activities. People can volunteer as poll workers, donate to campaigns, [participate in] textbank[s], canvass (when [coronavirus] is gone), write postcards or letters…, amplify positive news about candidates you support, volunteer with campaigns, [and] talk to friends and family to make sure they’re registered to vote,” Starnes said. High schoolers can still help the Demand The Vote organization by telling “people about the website. It’s one of the most comprehensive one-stop shop voting info websites out there.” 

As the coronavirus has swept across the country, voting has experienced new obstacles. Limited contact with others has prevented some traditional ways of voter registration and spreading information about voting from taking place. Because of this, phone banks have increased in popularity. “You can phonebank for candidates up and down the ballot. For example, people could volunteer for Cal Cunningham. Then, from a list they receive from the campaign or whatever organization is running the phonebank, they would call the voters on their assigned list,” Starnes said. “You would also have a script with pre-written prompts for common questions as well as prompts for the main purpose of the phone call.” 

Phone calls can also vary in purpose and procedure. “There are many types of scripts which the campaigns use [at] during different points in the election cycles,” Starnes said. “… They use all this information in conjunction with their canvassing data, texting data, mailers, and so forth.” These phone banks may focus on sharing information about certain candidates, informing individuals about ways they can vote during this time, or a number of other topics related to voting and politics. “[Phone banks] can take place in a room with loads of people on [cell phones] or landlines. Or you can even do them from your home via the internet,” Starnes said. “If you’re phone banking from home they can last as long as you want to dial. But typically they will end around 8 or 9 [P.M.] in the time zone that you are calling and may not start until 9 or 10 [A.M.]. They take place every day of the week and more so the closer we get to November 3.” 

Starnes emphasizes the importance of every eligible person investing in their right to vote. “When people don’t vote or, more importantly, when people are stopped from voting by way of voter suppression then the will of the people is not being carried out,” Starnes said. “Your voice is not being heard. And that’s when you start seeing rights stripped away.”