By Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Relations, Goodwill Industries International
I was able to cast my vote last week, as Virginia is one of the 42 states along with the District of Columbia that offers in-person early voting. My polling place was fresh out of “I Voted Early” stickers, so I took a “Future Voter” sticker instead. Probably meant for children, technically I’m a “Future Voter” as well since I’ll surely be voting again in another election. I’m grateful to work for an organization that not only provides paid time off so employees can vote on Election Day, but also a paid day to conduct volunteer work, a practice that is becoming more common among employers. I’m excited to use my volunteer day on November 3 to work at the polls.
In addition to the federal offices (President, 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 seats in the U.S. Senate) that are up for grabs this year, elections are being held in 56 of the 100 largest cities by population. This includes elections for 29 mayoral offices, as well as elections for county officials whose jurisdictions overlap with those cities. Eleven governorships, nine lieutenant gubernatorial seats, 10 attorney general seats, and seven secretary of state seats are at stake. Including down-ballot races, there are 165 state executive offices up for election across 29 states. Across all 50 states, there are 99 state legislative chambers altogether. Eighty-six of those chambers are holding legislative elections this year.
Elected officials at all levels make critical decisions that affect nonprofits like Goodwill® and the millions of individuals and families who use Goodwill services.
Voters in 32 states will consider 120 statewide ballot measures ranging from elections, paid leave, minimum wage, taxes, and affirmative action, among other issues. The outcome of the votes could ultimately impact the work, voice, and resources available to charitable nonprofits and foundations in the various states.
With so much at stake during this election year, voter turnout is crucial. Voter engagement is also critical to the work conducted by nonprofits. Some local Goodwill organizations have incorporated voter engagement and education into their practices. They hold voter registration drives, host candidate forums, and remind both employees and people they serve about the benefits of voting.
Regardless of the election outcomes, the act of voting is one way in which individuals can partake in our democracy. Our friends at NonprofitVOTE have created tools for voters to find resources in their states. For those who need a ride on Election Day (Nov. 3), our partners at Lyft are offering 50 percent off one ride worth up to $10 to any polling location or ballot dropbox using the code 2020VOTE (details and terms here). For the first time, this offer also includes Lyft’s network of bikes and scooters in cities where they’re available.
Your vote is a representation of your voice and opens the door to other ways you can engage in your community and our democracy. Whether or not the election turns out the way you wanted, you can wear your “I Voted” (or, in my case, “Future Voter”) sticker proudly on Tuesday and know that you helped make a difference.