For obvious reasons, everyone’s focus has been on the presidential election. But it’s not the only important election happening this year. You may have been hearing about the Georgia Senate runoff election in January. There, a candidate must get 50 percent of the vote to win, which didn’t happen in two different races. Right now, Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock are facing incumbent Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler for their Senate seats. If they win, that creates a 50-50 Senate. That’s imperative for Joe Biden to get any of his plans for the country off the ground. Even if you don’t live in Georgia, there are ways to get involved.
The first and most important thing people can do is vote. If you live in Georgia, the deadline to register to vote is December 7th. You can register and make changes to your existing voter registration online. Of course, you can also register by mail or in person at any state or government office. If you want to vote by mail (a very good idea given COVID) you need to request an absentee ballot. Counties are currently mailing out their absentee ballots; you have until January 1st to request one. If you’re voting absentee, your ballot needs to be received or submitted by 7PM on Election Day. In-person early voting begins on December 14th and Election Day is January 5th.
Give Directly To Georgia
During the Biden election, credit for flipping Georgia was rightfully given to Stacey Abrams and her organization Fair Fight. After losing her election for governor of Georgia back in 2018, Abrams has dedicated herself to fighting voter suppression and getting more people actively voting. Abrams and Fair Fight are still fighting the good fight for this runoff, so directing funds and help to them is always a good idea. “We have seen what is possible when we work hard and when we work together,” she said in a video statement shared to her social media. The video calls for support to help Ossoff and Warnock win the runoff.
Georgia, thank you. Together, we have changed the course of our state for the better. But our work is not done.
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) November 7, 2020
Additionally, there are lots of organizations on the ground that are doing the work, so you should be focusing your attention (and $$) on them as well. They’re the ones who know the demographics to target. And many of them are small orgs without a lot of resources to continue the work, so this gives them a leg up. Many of these orgs are run by BIPOC and are using various methods to target groups that don’t typically turn out and vote. This is a super helpful spreadsheet that lists different organizations to support, and it highlights groups run by BIPOC.
Support Grassroots Organizations
“During the election cycle, we often see folks rushing to support key races, but failing to support on-the-ground organizing efforts and no actual investment in our long-term organizing fights around policy and culture,” organizing lead for SONG Atlanta, Jade Brooks, told Vice. SONG uses their efforts to help expand voter access in Fulton County jail. “Before jumping to support, folks outside of Georgia should consider the current organizing landscape, and if they are contributing to people-driven work long-term.”
Another grassroots organization in Georgia to support is Black Male Voter Project. Their efforts target non-voters who didn’t participate in either of Barack Obama’s elections. Their founder, Mondale Robinson, shares Jade Brooks’ thoughts about which organizations to support. “If it looks like traditional campaigning, if it sounds like traditional campaigning, it’s probably responsible for traditional results. Traditional results did not deliver us Georgia,” Robinson told Vice.
Of course, you can also send financial support directly to Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock’s campaigns directly. And if you aren’t in a position to donate funds, you can donate your time. Or if you’re feeling especially helpful, doing both is an option. Both campaigns are looking for volunteers to help get the word out. And even if you don’t live in Georgia, you can still do things like phone banking. The organization Black Voters Matter is also mobilizing votes via phone, email, and canvassing.
Tweet, Retweet, Repeat
And while we may think they’re unhelpful, social media posts do work. This is a great way to support and uplift those on the ground when you live out of state. Retweeting posts from organizations in Georgia is a way to increase visibility for their efforts. Sharing posts on your Instagram stories or on your Facebook feed also do help. Julius Thomas, the chairman of People’s Uprising told Vice about the role social media played in helping voter turnout.
“It helped keep the energy of early voting and the energy of people getting registered to vote. When Georgia’s trending, that energizes young people and people of color. It helps us stay engaged because it’s constantly on their mind.” One of the ways People’s Uprising gets the youth vote is through Lil’ Baby concerts.
Mobilize Georgia’s Youth
Getting the youth out to vote is crucial to the Georgia runoff. According to organization The Civics Center, there are 23,000 17-year-olds who were ineligible to vote on November 3rd. But they will be able to vote in the runoff. As long as they turn 18 before election day in January, they can vote. Even if they’re 17 right now. Since Gen Z tends to vote blue, it could certainly make a difference in terms of the margin between votes. As the MIT Technology Review points out, social media is the new frontier for getting young voter turnout. There’s an Instagram page, Friends Vote Together, which works to match text and phone banking volunteers with voters in swing counties. Cate Meyer, the group’s founder, told the MIT Technology Review that they have more than 40 teenage volunteers working on this election.
The New Georgia Project, a non-profit that is working to register young voters, is using gaming site Twitch to get kids interested. They conducted two “Twitch the Vote” events, using a sneaker giveaway to help. On National Voter Registration Day in September, those two events helped to get 9,000 new votes. Nse Ufot, the CEO of the org, is using the group again to help mobilize Georgia teens for this runoff election. “We’re dropping in on Zoom high school government classes. We’re doing more Twitch the Vote events. We’re going to graduations at the end of the semester,” she told the MIT Technology Review.
Carolyn DeWitt, president of Rock the Vote realizes that youth are a beneficial part of relational organizing. “Young people reaching out to their friends and families to make sure that they are committed to voting and that they have the information that they need to cast their ballot,” she told The Hill.
Show Up To Work
If you live in Georgia and want to do something other than canvassing or phone banking, there’s another option. Poll workers are always in short supply, but especially right now. Of course, it’s more dangerous right now because of COVID, but there’s still a need. So if you feel like you’re willing to brave the crowds, sign up to be a poll worker. Usually you can also receive financial compensation, so that’s a nice bonus. You can search your county’s board of elections to find out more information.
There’s a lot at stake here. It’s important that we make this an “all hands on deck” effort. Whether or not you live in Georgia, there are ways to make a difference. So let’s do what we can!