CenturyLink Field and the Seattle skyline

You can register to vote at CenturyLink Field Event Center this weekend.

Even with a pandemic still raging, we all have the election on our minds. In King County, voters have stuffed ballot boxes well in advance of November 3. Which leaves us with some time on our hands. What to do, then, if you’re a civically engaged type who’s feeling helpless ahead of Tuesday’s results (and perhaps many more days of, um, drama)? A couple of suggestions.

Reach out to the procrastinators in your life. We all have them (looks at self). While King County gave ample notice for its online and mail-in voter registration deadline of October 26, perhaps one of your friends missed the memo and now presumes they're shut out of the electoral process. Not so. Unlike other states, Washington allows voters to register in-person through Election Day. They can do so at any of the Vote Centers located throughout the county, including two here in Seattle: one at CenturyLink Field, the other at the University of Washington. Both on Monday and Election Day, voters can register, update their records, or receive assistance in completing their ballots. Trained staffers will be on hand with equipment to help folks with disabilities cast their votes privately and independently.

Consider phone or text banking to expand your influence beyond your immediate circle. If a beleaguered go-getter hunched over a phone in a crowded room comes to mind when you think of phone banking, you're not alone. But a couple of recent developments have made cold-calling voters a less daunting activity in 2020. First and foremost, Covid-19 has forced more of these campaigns to go virtual. You no longer have to talk over the dialer sitting next to you to make yourself heard.

The other? You don't have to call at all. In recent years, text banking has increasingly become the norm for those who want to sway voters, or even just to encourage them to cast ballots. This method has multiple benefits, says Tyna Ek of Seattle Indivisible. The president of the progressive grassroots organization notes that voters can't ignore a text as easily as a phone number they don't recognize. It's more likely that a voter will read a text, even if they don't respond, than answer a phone during an era of incessant robocalls. And introverts don't have to battle anxiety around phone chatter just to get their message across (you listening, Seattle?).

Signing up to text bank for your campaign or cause of choice doesn't mean sending out your phone number out to a bunch of randos, either. Campaigns and activists typically use apps and other forms of tech to mass-text (Seattle Indivisible opts for one called TextOut). Yes, this may mean you accidentally text a Janet in Idaho instead of a Jared in Georgia. But the power to reach voters across the country, including in swing states, is well-worth the occasional angry text back.

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