It doesn’t matter how many elections you’ve lived through, campaign season never gets any more pleasant. Add it to a year that has already been exponentially more challenging than most, and it’s no wonder why you may be ready to check out early. But it doesn’t always have to be a source of stress if you know how to navigate it.
Use social media; don’t let it use you
These days it isn’t hard to find nonpartisan, educational voting guides online. Some Facebook groups or Instagram accounts are invested in plugging you into those resources. Now more than ever it is easy to go into the voting booth (or submit your mail-in ballot) informed enough about all of your choices to know what is at stake.
However, be careful about what is informing you. Most emotionally charged videos, articles, and memes are designed to keep you engaged online, not make you an informed voter. Even the most well-intentioned groups or accounts can fall prey to these tactics. Consider the sources of the material you’re consuming and cross-check it (several times, if necessary) with a variety of other outlets and sources to make sure you’re not taking in false information and spreading it. If something sounds too good (or too horrible) to be true, it may not be 100% factual.
Be a part of the process
If you can, sign up to be a poll worker. They are always in demand, and it will do wonders for helping you learn about the process. On top of the possibility of making new friends, you will be actively responsible for protecting the integrity of the vote for your community.
Encourage your family and friends to register and vote
You can join a team to help you reach easily reach out to your community and your circle to make sure they have registered and help them find the resources to register if they haven’t. Or you can volunteer to take people to the polls on election day.
Protecting your peace and exercising your rights don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If you have already found yourself succumbing to the waves of negativity, take a step back if you need to. Then come back in with your boundaries clear and your game plan solid.
Preserving democracy requires as many of us as possible not to give up on it.