Dear Social Studies Colleagues,
The NCSS Human Rights Education Community is pleased to share with you our "Your Vote, Your Voice 2020 Toolkit, Tools to Encourage Voting and Participation in Government," hosted on the Human Rights Educators USA website (https://hreusa.org/projects/your-vote-your-voice-2020/#more-13954 ) and featured in the September 8, 2020 issue of NCSS's TSSP Newsletter (https://email.socialstudies.org/tssp-the-constitution-day-edition ). Inside you will find materials to support inquiry-based, rigorous service learning projects in civic engagement around the 2020 Election.
We have designed this toolkit not only for those students who will be eligible to vote this year, but also for students, not yet of voting age, who can help family members, friends and community members negotiate through the various paths to becoming registered to vote, deciding whether to seek an absentee/mail-in ballot, voting early, voting on Election Day. The resources involve not only a toolkit for get-out-the-vote projects, but lessons and resources on the history of voting, voter suppression, the civil rights and human rights dimensions of defending the right to vote, etc.
The voting rules are different in every state. So a Checklist for a "Get Out the Vote Service Learning Project" is included in the materials ( https://hreusaorg.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/get-out-the-vote-service-learning-project.pdf ). The Checklist includes URLs that link to available government and nonprofit civil society resources that include links to each state's requirements. The checklist sites link to the various state or county sites where prospective voters can
- check their registration status,
- get registered (or find out the rules for doing so in person, if that's what their state requires),
- qualifying for mail-in ballots (the requirements are wildly different between states,
- gathering proof of eligibility,
- get information on early voting sites and Election Day sites
Students will also get help planning how to get to early voting sites or Election Day voting sites and be reminded of strategies for staying COVID-safe.
Note that the links have all been checked out, and are live. However, I've discovered that when a punctuation mark follows them too closely in the sentence, the link may report as "NotFound". The solution is to just remove the punctuation mark at the end of the URL (this was the case for the link state requirements for voter registration and three links to sites for staying COVID-safe.).
Young people can be the hands and feet and eyes (and translators and drivers) of their more physically challenged family members and community members. They can get the computer to work for online registration. They can help a neighbor correctly fill out a form for absentee/mail-in balloting. They can scope out where the early voting sites are and the Election Day sites. If they have drivers licenses, they can be chauffeurs for their infirm neighbors or relatives (maintaining masking and social distance while they do it) and help negotiate the voting-site hurdles that keep many potential voters from voting and that affect some voters of color and language minority voters experience disproportionately.
Please give your students the opportunity over the next few weeks to practice their growing civic awareness and responsibility at a critical time in the political history of the republic.. We've kept the toolkit flexible. Even with virtual, distance learning, there are safe and timely strategies that students can use in their families and neighborhoods, via social media, online and over the phone. A young person who has helped a relative or neighbor successfully vote their choice will remember that experience when their own voting career takes off.
This is such a critical time for the country. But, that's what makes it such an exciting time for young people to become engaged in civic life. In some states, voter registration ends 30 days before Election Day. Some states are very strict about absentee ballots. Uncertainties about the capacity of the USPS to deliver timely ballots means that early is better than later for every action that might require a postal component. Let's give our students the opportunity to serve their families and communities well. In the process they serve their nation and grow some personal civic "superpowers."
Thanks For All You Are Doing!
Chair, Human Rights Education Community
Rosemary Blanchard, Human Rights Education Community
Retired: Associate Professor of Education Emeritus
Adjunct Instructor in Peace Studies
Sacramento State Univ & Univ of NM