By Kermit Hovey
Why “vote early and get out the vote often”? To have your voice heard, concerns expressed, and ultimately actions taken. There are many issues you might want to see acted on. Among them towers, of course, the climate crisis. It poses an increasingly dire threat not just to people but to all life, not just in our country but around the globe.
On few things does science hold a stronger consensus than that climate change is really happening, really serious, really human caused, and that we can still really do something about it.
Tragically, too many elected leaders and officials — from the White House on down — fail to recognize the pressing reality of climate change or support concerted action to address it. You may even remember the names of those in positions of power who have dismissed and denied the problem while denying their responsibility for action.
While past performance is no guarantee of future results, the track record of those whose position and conduct so threaten our future warrants special attention this election. We can only anticipate with fear and trembling the results of continued disruption of environmental protections, withdrawal of our country from the Paris Climate Accord, and appointment of similarly indifferent individuals to non-elective office.
In light of these facts, we confront the need for an electoral remedy. As a matter of fact, it is arguable that only by making electoral consequences to climate change indifference real and serious can we ever expect to see real and significant political action to address the crisis.
So, Vote Early!
Why should we vote early? Because elections have consequences such as those already caused by those climate crisis dismissers, deniers, and minimizers already in office!
Why else? Because by voting early you ensure your vote is cast. This avoids any last-minute forgetfulness or accident that might keep you from submitting your vote in a timely way. In Wisconsin it is possible to vote early in-person or by mail-in ballot. Voting early, especially by mail, avoids being in and contributing to crowds — important during the pandemic. Those of us who can vote early help keep the election-day crowds smaller, safer, and more manageable for those who can’t. (For details on voting in Wisconsin, go to myvote.wi.gov.)
And Get out the Vote Often!
And why should we “Get out the Vote Often?” Because elections have consequences such as those already caused by those climate crisis dismissers, deniers, and minimizers already in office!
Why? Because every vote will matter! If you watch local television you may have noticed an unusually large number of ads singing the praises of Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and probably what seems like an even larger number of ads slinging mud at the other candidate.
Congratulations! You live in a hotly contested swing state. Swing states with the electoral version of razor-thin margins decided the electoral college outcome of the presidential race in 2016. Wisconsin went for Trump by just under 23,000 votes at about 0.8% of the votes cast . Similarly, in neighboring swing state Michigan, just over 2 votes/precinct decided the race.
Ironically, climate aware or environmentally concerned individuals are less likely to vote. Researchers don’t know for sure why. However demographics may be a factor. The same young adults, college students, and minorities who are more likely to be environmentally concerned are also from the groups historically less likely to vote.
So, we need to get out the vote because we cannot assume even those most concerned about an issue will vote on their own.
Fortunately, in a democracy that enshrines freedom of speech in its constitution, we have a chance to multiply our voice and our vote. We can do so legally and ethically by not stopping once we submit our own ballot. We can speak up and encourage others to vote also.
To help get out the vote, you just need to be willing and able to take some time to communicate.
You can be as introverted or extroverted as you happen to be. You can find a communication technology that works for you, whether phone, text, letters, postcards, or social media. You can reach out to voters from the electorate at large, particular geographic areas, or to supporters of particular candidates, policies, or political parties. You can reach out to complete strangers, acquaintances, friends, or family. You can do it on your own, with local groups, or online sites.
With all the options and alternatives out there, what’s the best way to “Get out the Vote?” It’s the way you actually choose and do! Pick one or more, have fun, and make a difference.
After all, elections have consequences. For a livable climate and a sustainable world for us all, regardless of party, we need to vote early and get out the vote often! We must elect leaders willing to lead toward solving the climate crisis, now more than ever.