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How to Make Sure Your Vote is Counted in These Broken times

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GUEST POST BY DAVID RUIZ

Alright, folks, let’s get serious. This year, we need to vote. Yes, that means you, and yes, it means voting against Trump.

I get it. Joe Bien might not excite you. You might even hate the guy. And you might hate the idea of compromising your values for a candidate who supported invading Iraq and who trumpeted his exceedingly harmful criminal justice bill as a moment of reinvention for Democrats. According to Biden upon passage of the law, the Dems were now in support of “100,000 cops” and “125,000 new state prison cells”—like that’s a good thing?

I hate all that too, but you know what else I hate? The current presidency.

I hate 183,000 dead – and climbing – from a pandemic that other countries are starting to control. I hate government thugs tearing children from their mothers and leaving them to die. I hate that broken, insecure men control women’s access to abortions. I hate that one man who thinks transgender men and women “make everybody else uncomfortable” also has the power to restrict those men and women’s access to shelter. I hate the Federal jackboots who tear-gassed peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square, I hate the spit-swallowing toadies who came to the jackboots’ defense. I hate that Swastika-waving, narrow-mined, narrow lifers are “very fine people.”

I hate all of this and if you don’t hate these things enough to want to help stop them, then you’re not paying attention. That’s on you. Many of these are uniquely Trumpian problems in America today, and your vote, while it may be imperfect, could at least help some people hurting.

Will we still hurt after November? Yes. But some folks can have a better chance at alleviating their pain now.

The least you can do is vote.

Here’s how that will work this year, during the pandemic. And here’s how the Internet can help you get it done.

If You Aren’t Registered to Vote, Register to Vote

First things first, if you are not registered to vote, do that now. It’s easier than it sounds, and in the before-times, the whole process took about five minutes. Online today, it’s just as fast. Visit vote.org’s registration site immediately to get this step done.

If you have a felony conviction, you can also visit the Restore Your Vote project run by the Campaign Legal Center. A brief questionnaire will help determine whether or not you can vote in this year’s election.

The deadline to register in California or to make changes to your voter registration is October 19. You find the deadline to register to vote for all other states right here.

If You are Registered to Vote, Check Your Voter Registration Again

Even if you know you’re registered to vote, it’s always a good time to check in on the status of your registration.

You can check your registration status by either visiting vote.org, or the California Secretary of State’s website. Vote.org will ask for your first and last name, street address, city, state, and zip code, your date of birth, and finally your email address.

Here’s what a healthy, current voter registration status looks like.

The California Secretary of State’s website asks your first and last name, your driver’s license or state ID number, your social security number, and your data of birth. While that request is a bit deeper, the information you get is more substantial—your voter registration status, your party preference, and whether you’re registered as a permanent vote-by-mail voter.

Which, about that…

Wait for Your Ballot to Show Up in the Mail

This year, because of the pandemic, California Governor Gavin Newsome is requiring that all California voters receive their ballots in the mail. The San Francisco Department of Elections has confirmed that it will deliver mail-in ballots to all registered voters this October.

You do not need to apply for any special option to receive your ballot in the mail this year. It’s automatic, and that’s a good thing.

Further, the State of California also set up a website that lets voters track where their ballot is. The website, found here, is already live, but it offers little information since the production and sending of ballots is still weeks away. If you haven’t received your ballot by early October, check the website to see why there’s a holdup.

Though the website is up and running, there’s little information to glean at the moment.

Deliver That Ballot In-Person if You Can

Voting can be done entirely by mail this year, but if you can, you should fill out your ballot and deliver it in person to a designated ballot drop-off box or voter station.

You see, this year, the USPS got fucked. Mail is delayed across the country, sorting machines have been removed, and life-saving prescription medicines are arriving late.

Our neighbors in Alameda get to drop off their ballots in great-looking 24-hour drop boxes.

To remove any doubt about your ballot arriving on time, don’t rely on the mailbox. Deliver that ballot in person. In our neighboring county Alameda, election officials will set up 24-hour ballot boxes to drop off your ballot, along with drop-off drive-throughs. Whoa.

Drive-throughs are the future. Not only can you get tested for coronavirus in one, you can vote in one, too.

Unfortunately, San Francisco has not yet announced where or when its ballot drop-off stations will be set up, but it has established similar stations before. For the March presidential primary election, San Francisco voters could drop their ballots off early at “Voting Centers” at City Hall, San Francisco State University, or the Joseph Lee Recreation Center in the Bayview.

For updates in this election, check the city’s Department of Elections website around mid-September.

Tell Your Friends About this Today, Not Tomorrow

There’s a lot wrong today, and truthfully, the vote alone will not fix it. We are not only fighting a corrupt administration — we are fighting structures long-ago put into place that allow racism to flourish and allow racists themselves to obtain power.

Voting on its own does not rid us of hatred, or the structures of hatred, or fascism. Voting is simply one of many tools we must utilize to protect ourselves. Without it, we might as well give up.

But don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

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