We are living in unprecedented times. A world-wide public health pandemic and a spotlight on the deep rooted systemic racism since the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis has caused pain and uncertainty, yet also opened up the possibility for real transformative social change. The need for active engagement in our democratic public life is critical now more than ever.
Never in the history of the U.S. has there been a question of the peaceful transfer of power from one President to another. The nature of voting amidst a global pandemic this year also means that the results will likely not be as clear as they have in the past. Here are some helpful articles and resources that members of the Mac community are taking advantage of:
- Choose Democracy is offering free online workshops led by George Lakey to share the most important things to know and practice in order to be ready for the possibility of an elections-related power grab. Ready for next steps? Visit Choose Democracy Action Center for a list of ways to engage and do the work to protect our democracy.
- See the Political Science Department’s template for reaching out to elected representatives.
- Election Night Integrity Project: “With record numbers of people paying close attention to election returns, I felt it was important to give them access to the sort of dashboard you’d use if you worked in politics, one that could give you information — but more importantly, give you context. This idea became the Election Night Integrity Project, our dashboard where you’ll be able to watch results roll in while also seeing useful benchmarks, like past results in the state and the number of votes cast in 2016.”
- Get in Formation: A Community Safety Toolkit This toolkit is part of Vision Change Win’s Community Safety project directed and created by Ejeris Dixon. It is the amalgamation of safety practices developed by over 20 organizations and individuals spanning from the late 1960’s to the present. “We celebrate the legacy of community safety, some of which has been written down in toolkits like this one and much of which exists through oral history in our organizations and groups.”
- This AP article outlines key dates between November 3 and Inauguration Day, 2021.
- 10 Things You Need to Know to Stop a Coup by Daniel Hunter: “While keeping people focused on a strong, robust election process is a must, we also need to prepare for a coup.”
- See Something, Say Something converts citizen reported instances of voter suppression into real time maps and alerts.
- Georgetown’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) has created fact sheets for all 50 states explaining the laws barring unauthorized private militia groups and what to do if groups of armed individuals are near a polling place or voter registration drive.
The Google Doc One-Time and Short-Term Options for Volunteering with Nonpartisan Organizations, Advocacy Groups, and Campaigns is a list of occasional opportunities for Macalester students, staff, and faculty who want to be involved in election-related activities. The opportunities listed here have been sent to the Civic Engagement Center by members of the Mac community, community partners, or through social media.
Eligible voters who live on campus vote on election day at Macalester Plymouth United Church, 1658 Lincoln Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105, which is right across the street from the West entrance to Old Main (and only 350 steps from the Campus Center!). You only need your Mac ID to register the day of the election. If you live at another address in Minnesota, check here to find your polling place.
The nonpartisan tool All In Campus Democracy Challenge covers all 50 states and Washington, DC and is powered in partnership with Vote.org and BallotReady’s CivicEngine. Macalester is a campus member of the All In Challenge:
Minnesota law allows all eligible voters who have lived in Minnesota for 20 days prior to an election to vote using the address where they reside. While some students may want to vote from a permanent address in another location, eligible voters can vote in either location. It is important that eligible voters only vote in one location for any specific election.
Eligible voters are encouraged to register now.
Eligible voters who live on campus vote on election day at Macalester Plymouth United Church, 1658 Lincoln Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105. If you live at another address in Minnesota, check here to find your polling place.
Macalester is a member of All In (short for ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge), a national, nonpartisan initiative of Civic Nation, a 501(c)3. Their website features a suite of tools created for college students to help them find their polling place, important deadlines, voting FAQs, and much more.
Another very helpful resource is the Washington Post’s How to vote in your state guide.
If you have a choice between registering to vote from a prior address or registering with Mac’s campus address (1600 Grand Ave), it is helpful to consider a number of factors:
- Where are you most motivated to vote?
- Is the precinct in your home state more or less competitive than the 3rd precinct in Minnesota, where Macalester is located?
- Where do you connect most with the issues and candidates on the ballot?
- Where will voting be the most convenient?
Watch this message from Mac’s Political Science Department.
Those unable to vote can still impact the 2020 election by engaging in the following ways:
- Educate Yourself: Learn about the U.S. election systems and why voting is a fundamental part of democracy. In a presidential election year, understand the difference between the primaries, in which the major political parties select their candidates, and the general election, which happens every four years on the first Tuesday in November.
- Remind your Friends to Vote: This election is too important for those who can vote to sit it out. Talk to your U.S. friends and classmates about the potential impacts of the 2020 election, and encourage them to make a plan to vote.
- Engage the Issues You Care About: There are many ways to be involved in democracy — year round — that go beyond voting. In the Civic Engagement Center, we organize our work around 10 student-led Issue Areas, and encourage students to engage in ways most meaningful to them. If you want to know more about how you can contribute, either directly with the elections or on a regular basis, reach out to one of our student leaders and they will get back to you right away!
- Attend an Event: Leading up to the Presidential Election on November 3, there will be multiple (virtual) events on the topic of democracy and citizenship at Macalester.
- Think Local: Get to know the candidates and ballot issues in Minnesota. Consider engaging the issues that are important to you as a way to be involved.
The U.S. Presidential Election, also known as the General Election, is held every 4 years. In addition to the President, as much as a third of the U.S. Senate is also on the ballot in the General Election. Midterm Elections (named so because they occur halfway through a President’s term) are held every 2 years, and determine the makeup of the U.S. House of Representatives since all 435 seats are on the ballot each Midterm Election.
While the U.S. Constitution specifies the right to hold elections, the method and location are left to the states with Congress having the power to alter their regulations. This is why the process varies from state to state.
Initially granted solely to white, property-owning men, the right to vote now belongs to every U.S. Citizen when they turn 18 if they can meet certain residency requirements (one can still be homeless and meet this requirement). In nearly every state, residents can register to vote if they will be 18 years of age on or before Election Day.
Although the popular vote for the General Election is held the first Tuesday of each November, the Electoral College is the formal body that elects the President and Vice President. Prior to 2000, there were already 7 General Elections in which one faithless elector helped elect a president that had not won the popular vote. A blank ballot was cast in 2000, resulting in the controversial re-election of George W. Bush. In 2016, 7 electors broke with their state on the presidential ballot and six did so on the vice presidential ballot.
- Sept 17: Constitution Day
- Sept 22: National Voter Registration Day
- Oct 13: Last day to pre-register to vote in MN
- Oct. 23: End of Module 1 (Finals Period ends)
- Oct 24: Vote Early Day
- Oct 28: Start of Module 2
- Nov 3: Election Day
- Nov 4: Post-election reflection
- Nov 5-6: Possible post-election reflection
- Nov 12-13: 2020 International Roundtable: Facing Pandemics of Disease and Race
- Dec 15: End of Module 2
- Jan 20: Inauguration Day
- Jan 21: Module 3 begins
Minnesota organizers credit COVID-19 pandemic with helping mobilize Latino voters By Zoë Jackson, Star Tribune, October 15, 2020
Warren makes several stops for Biden in Minnesota, Wisconsin By Kim Hyatt, Star Tribune, October 19, 2020
The 27th Annual International Roundtable, titled Facing Pandemics of Disease and Race: Radically Reimagining for Liberatory Futures is scheduled for November 12-13. Every autumn, Macalester hosts the International Roundtable, a community-wide forum exploring critical issues from a variety of perspectives. Given its proximity to the General Election, this year’s IRT will be an especially vital space for deep thinking, reflection, and imagination in the midst of what may be a tumultuous time period. The IRT builds on a summer webinar series, Untangling Racial Politics and Ontologies: Local and Global Antagonisms and Possibilities.
Democracy in Action is a specific component of Mobilize Mac, unique to the 2020 election season. As a seminar-based course, it offers students an opportunity to earn academic credit for engaging in political action in the Fall 2020 semester. Students can earn 2 or 4 academic credits for working on a political campaign or completing another form of direct, civically engaged political action. Find out more here.
Mobilize Mac is the umbrella framing that the Civic Engagement Center will be using for all democracy and elections-related work throughout the year. Mobilize Mac encompasses all of the elections-related work happening on and off campus and offers opportunities for engagement regardless of voting eligibility, party affiliation, or voting status. Everyone is welcome to engage with the issues that matter most to them. Join the conversation online with #MobilizeMac and #HeyMac.