Today’s article is by guest contributor Laura Stolk, Freelance Writer.
You are feeling motivated. You want to push the country in the right direction. You feel the momentum. Now what?
As you may have heard, “secret” Facebook Groups are changing the way activists are organizing. In a secret group, users can feel safe about posing their ideas without the hindrance of negativity. Like-minded people can unite to formulate plans and create action.
In the group Pantsuit Republic DFW Chapter, for example, there has been some flurry about how to organize our momentum toward winning elections.
One user, made a simple suggestion: “How about we take this momentum, turn it into action, and formulate a plan for 2018?” There were many responses and ideas were suddenly swirling around. The need for organization became apparent.
Getting organized looks like this and here is what you can do:
GET THE WORD OUT!
Dallas City Council and Mayor elections are right around the corner. Put May 6, 2017 on your calendar. The last day to register to vote in that election is April 6, 2017.
City Council and Mayor elections are a way to begin turning the tide. Voter turnout at these elections is very low. It is crucial that we begin to motivate ourselves and others to get to the polls for all elections. We can’t let a few people decide who will govern everyone. Make sure to vote. Here is a list of the candidates in Dallas. If you’re not in Dallas, search the web for your city name and “city council election”.
On November 6, 2018, there will be 33 Senate seats, 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 36 Governorships ready for us. We must take them.
What is the most important thing for you, as an individual, to do besides voting? Let those you know and those you meet know when elections happen. Sometimes it is easier to speak to strangers. If you strike up a conversation at the grocery store, work the election dates in.
Something that can be done right now is to schedule a Facebook post to go out just before the above dates. This way you won’t forget and you will be getting the word out to others.
There is a plethora of information available at the official website for Dallas County Elections and you can follow them on Facebook. Another handy site is called ballotpedia.org. It has a list of upcoming elections.
DO YOU KNOW A POTENTIAL CANDIDATE?
If so, encourage that person to consider running for office. Sometimes a person doesn’t realize they would make a great candidate. It takes another person to point it out!
Maybe you would be a good candidate. It is hard to know where to begin, but there is help. Many people are ready to stand behind you. Emily’s List helps women get into office. Run for Office is a great resource to get you started. You can even take an online course that will teach you about what to do.
IN THE MEANTIME, BECOME A DEPUTY REGISTRAR
Did you know there are currently 1,252,628 people registered to vote in Dallas county? As of the 2010 census, there were 2,368,139 residents. So, we obviously have some work to do!
What is a Deputy Registrar? Volunteer Deputy Registrars are appointed by County Registrars. They are the people who officially register voters and help to increase registration.
VOLUNTEER AS A PRECINT CHAIR AND AIM FOR 100% REGISTRATION
What is a Precinct Chair? These are the people who work at a grass-roots level to increase people voting for your party, in your district.
Getting the word out about voting is great, but we want to make sure all people are registered. People who would potentially vote for your party need to be encouraged.
TAKE TIME TO VENT IN A SAFE PLACE
Don’t get burned out and don’t lose hope. The pace of our momentum will eventually slow, naturally. However, we cannot let it be extinguished.
It helps to get your head on straight. There is so much going on right now that it is hard to focus. Get focused! Choose a couple of things that you are passionate about and start there. Stick to working toward those goals and contribute by doing what you do best. Try to limit negativity and do not get pulled into arguments. Respond to everything with clarity and positivity, as best you can. You will get more flies with honey, as the saying goes.
Speaking with others who share your ideals is extremely encouraging, but it can be hard to find like-minded people in the community. We are becoming more guarded in our interactions. Don’t be pushy, but don’t be shamed into hiding your views. If there are people that you suspect could hold your same views, try to get to know them and find out.
Of course, find groups online that represent what you feel is important and join them. Participate in online discussions and read what others have to say. It helps greatly to know that you are not alone.
HELP PEOPLE TO GET PROPER ID
Now for more action. Some potential voters are not registered because of obstacles, and these are going to become more of a hindrance moving forward. The GOP is actively working to stop the liberal vote. We can fight back by offering help. Consider raising money – crowd sourcing can yield big results. If you do not want to be a registrar or precinct chair, perhaps you can contact the person responsible in your community and ask how you can be of service.
Acceptable forms of identification for Texas can be found here. It costs money. It is approximately $16 to get proper identification in Texas. That may not sound like much, but it can be a huge hurdle when you have other needs to be met, like groceries or diapers.
It takes transportation and time. The DMV can suck a whole day out of you, especially if you must take the bus and when you have kids with you.
GoVoteTexas.org has some great information about this. Free rides are available. If someone needs assistance in finding a free ride to the polls, contact the team at the Progress Texas Institute at (512) 473-4140, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are some other obstacles that could come up and keep people from having the proper identification to register. They can’t vote if they aren’t registered and they can’t register without proper identification.
Some will need legal help with getting their name corrected or changed. A discrepancy can cost upwards of $300 and will require legal counsel. Can you help to raise funds? Again, crowd sourcing is a great way to help. Ellen Daniel Williamson is a Texas lawyer who can offer pro-bono services and information about this.
Still others will need legal help with reinstating suspended ID’s. Navigating the system is a hindrance and the services of a lawyer will be needed. Bonnie Bremers Wolf can help with information about getting identification reinstated in Texas.
SOME CITIES WILL NEED OUR HELP: AID TO SANCTUARY CITIES
Soon, cities that have proclaimed to be a sanctuary could experience loss of federal funding. This may cause many problems for the poor. If funding is cut, lack of basic needs being met will curtail any desire to vote. Finding ways to aid those cities from where you are will be necessary. MotherJones.com provides a list of sanctuary cities. We will need ideas about how to help when the time comes!
Together we can change the tide, but we must remain organized and focused in our efforts. Find one or two ways that you can help and follow through. Make a commitment that you will make a difference. We need you.