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by Kristin Anderson on 2020-10-13T13:44:00-07:00 in Law & Government | Comments

Voting is an important right of U.S. citizenship as well as a civic duty. It is how we as individuals can voice our desire for change or our preferences that things stay the same. One vote in the millions of voices sometimes feels unimportant, but the consequence of not voting is that everyone else is making a decision that you have to live with. So I’ve put together this blog post to share resources and ways to educate ourselves about our rights and what we need to do from now until election day to ensure our individual voice is heard.  

Still on the fence about whether you are going to vote? The library might be able to help on that front. Recently, the library conducted a program about Why Voting Matters that is well worth checking out. Panelists for this program include Jackson County Clerk Christine Walker, Associate Professor of Political Science William Hughes from Southern Oregon University, and Cathy Shaw—successful campaign manager, three-time mayor of Ashland, Oregon, and President of the Jackson County Library District Board of Directors. The recording of the presentation can be found here. For those of you who prefer reading, our librarians have created booklists! Here is one drawn from our adult collections, and here is one for educating your kiddos.

Once you’ve decided to vote, you’ve got a few more actions to take. 

Register: This blog post is going live on the last day to register, so if you’re reading this, you may have missed the window to register. If you are unsure if you are registered to vote, follow this link to find out. This is the link to follow if you need to register. If you are reading this after 11:59 PM on October 13, 2020, it is too late to register for the November 3, 2020 election. Please still register; you will be ahead of the game for the next election. While the presidential elections get more press, there are a lot of important decisions that happen at the local level!  

Decide how to vote: Once you are registered, educate yourself. There are many resources out there to help. In Oregon there is an official voter information pamphlet that is mailed to all registered voters. Yes, even if you register right at the deadline, you will have one mailed to you. You can also access the booklet here. In addition, you will find links to an audio version of the booklet for low literacy or vision impaired voters, resources in languages other than English, and information for those who have been displaced by recent wild fires. In addition, I also use credible news sources to help inform my vote on both federal and state issues. I sometimes refer to this chart on media bias when I’m considering the political leanings of a news source. This helps me assess the credibility of the source. Confirmation bias is a thing that happens to human brains, and I try to be really careful that I don’t only listen to news that reinforces what I already believe, but challenges it, too. There are all kinds of ways human brains fail when they think they are being logical, and I find it’s useful to remind myself of that fact when consuming the news and deciding how to vote. Here’s more info on confirmation bias.

VOTE: Congratulations, you live in a state that has 100% mail in voting, so you get to vote by mail. The system has been around for years and has worked well, so there is no reason to believe that it will function any differently this year. You can mail in your ballot once you have completed it (make sure to follow all the directions on the ballot) OR you can save a stamp and place it in an Official Ballot Drop Box. Many of our library locations have drop boxes, so stop in and say “hi” to your favorite librarian or pick up a book (or eight) when you drop off your ballot. Here is the link to find out where the ballot drop boxes are located. New this year: we’ve added a drop box at the Medford Library, Hooray! If you experience voter intimidation at a ballot box, please call the non-partisan Election Protection Hotline at 866-687-8683 (866-OUR-VOTE). Voter intimidation is illegal. It is not required that you speak English to be able to vote; if you are a US Citizen, you get to vote. If you experience intimidation and Spanish is the language with which you are the most comfortable, call 888-839-8682 (888-VE-Y-VOTA). 

If you take nothing else from this blog post: your vote is important. Your neighbor’s vote is also important. We need to look out for each other. If you have questions, witness voter suppression/intimidation, or have problems executing your voting plan on election day (or before) you can call the non-partisan Election Protection Hotline at 866-687-8683.

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