Get Out the Vote!

In 2016, only 56% of eligible Americans voted. One hundred million did not.
We conducted a poll that suggests 24.6 million self-proclaimed outdoor recreationists still may not vote in the upcoming election. When elections are decided by less than three million (2016 popular vote) or tens, or hundreds of thousands (many swing states’ electoral votes) this figure is astounding.
Why the apathy? The list of reasons was long, and “not liking candidates” was at the top, followed closely by “I’m not informed enough about the candidates or issues to make a good decision, voting has little to do with the way real decisions are madeI don’t like politics, It’s a hassle, and my vote isn’t going to affect how things turn out”.
We’re here to hopefully change some minds. Your vote does matter and voting doesn’t have to be a hassle. There are many resources to help you become educated on issues and candidates. As far as disliking politics? We might not be able to help you with that one. Have you ever considered running for office?
Keep reading to learn more about why voting matters, and what you can do to get ready for November.
Free and fair elections are the foundation of democracy. This seems simple, but it’s critical. In theory, a voting public ensures government authority derives from the will of the people.
1 a: Government by the people
b: A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
We the People” choose elected officials to govern us. As constituents, the officials we elect represent our perspectives, our voices, and our opinions. The United States Constitution mandates – through amendments, the original version only allowed white males over the age of 21 to cast a ballot – all citizens of the United States over the age of 18 are not to be denied the right to vote regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. However, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and U.S. laws, grant states wide latitude in how they administer federal elections. The first state-by-state difference is the voter registration process. In each state except North Dakota, citizens must register to vote, but how they do that varies. Good news, it’s easy to check your voter registration status and almost as easy to register. Check your status here.

HOW will you vote?
Voting booth. Mail-in ballot. Absentee. Early voting. All across America, people will be voting in different ways this fall. The way in which Americans cast their ballots has evolved over time, and also varies by state. Originally created to allow (white) soldiers to vote during the Civil War then broadened to allow overseas Americans the ability to vote during WWII, the absentee voting program has expanded significantly, decreasing barriers to voting and increasing voter turnout. In every state though, voters must request an absentee ballot. Alternatively, some states offer mail-in-voting – also referred to as all-mail voting, advance ballot, ballots by mail, by-mail ballot – where registered voters automatically receive a mail ballot to their address before Election Day. Prefer to head to a polling place and fill in the bubbles in person? Thirty-seven states have early voting allowing you physically cast a ballot as many as 45 days ahead of November 3. 
COVID-19 and uncertainties with the United States Postal Service might make casting a ballot this November especially daunting. There exists a myriad of ways to exercise this important right and many states are making it easier this year. Check out your states’ voting guidelines here.

Not sure who to vote for?
As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, we won’t tell you who to vote for but we will provide you resources to make an informed decision for yourself. 

  1. Make a list of issues that matter to you, then compare candidates’ views on these issues.
  2. Do your own research from trusted sources.
  3. Like any research project, be sure to check your facts

Eager to help encourage your community to cast a ballot this fall? As part of our commitment to protecting wild places, we are pleased to offer our Get Out the Vote social media toolkit.
Other important and nonpartisan resources: