In many countries, voting is compulsory. In Brazil, for example, poll workers will get on boats and venture into the Amazon to collect votes. It takes weeks! In Australia, failure to vote is met with a $20 fine and in Bolivia, your salary can be frozen if you don’t have a record of making it to the polls! How do other countries ensure that voters get to the polls without these financial penalties?
One way they do this is through automatic voter registration.
It seems that locating all these people and maintaining voter lists would be difficult. Yet, seventeen states and the District of Columbia have already instituted automatic voter registration in which citizens can opt-out if they so choose. Online voting is also an option for some people, and in case you don’t remember, the census had an online reporting option this year too! At this point, those are possible options for future voters, but in the here and now, what can be done to get to the polls?
Check to see if your area offers free stuff for voters and share that info with everyone you know.
Call the polling station and ask “will there be food trucks?” because hey...maybe there will or maybe they’ll think about!
Take a friend you haven’t seen in a while and stand in line together.
Tag-team child care and queueing with your child-rearing partner. Use Black Friday rules, ladies! Start off in the line together and reconvene at set intervals before swapping spots.
Offer a ride to a neighbor or offer to babysit if you were able to vote early!
Prepare to wait in line! Download some movies, games, and pack some snacks...hey, maybe plan to call in a grub-hub order and drum up some business for some local restaurants! Take a blanket, a chair, and a good book and get ready for some waiting.
What can we try to accomplish for future election periods in order to increase accessibility?
In some states, same-day voter registration is an option assuming voting polls are available to you.
In some countries, voting happens on the weekend or is a national holiday. People even turn it into a party rather than a chore!
Automatic voter registration could also be an effective way to create more access, as could more polling stations.
Have some post-voting discussions while your thoughts are fresh about what challenges you faced this year, what could have been better, what would have increased your willingness to vote or ability to get to the polls, and make a plan for future voting sessions.
Plan to write to your local, state, and federal representatives now about the options that would help you gain access, and include some of your MAR friends/members in the discussion.