ImpactAlpha, Oct. 23 – That sound you hear: Tens of millions of early voters determined to have a voice in the country we want to be. The risk of voting during a pandemic was supposed to deter voting. Instead, threats to our health and to our democracy appear to be turning voters out in record numbers.
An astounding 46,784,165 have already voted in the U.S. election. That’s a third of the total turnout in 2016, with 11 days to go. Texans, who lead early voter turnout, have already cast almost 6 million votes – two-thirds of the nearly 9 million votes cast in the last presidential election. California and Florida, North Carolina and New Jersey, and Michigan are following right behind.
“This is one of the crucial elections for my sons,” Dana Clark, who voted in New Orleans with a ‘safety pod’ to protect her and her son, told BuzzFeed News. “We’re so divided right now. We can do better. We should do better, and it starts with voting, which is why I always bring my kids to the polls.”
Pandemic notwithstanding, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight is predicting 154 million votes will be cast in the largest turnout in U.S. history.
It’s no accident. Agents of Democracy have stood strong against efforts to suppress the vote, including voter ID laws, purges of voter rolls and limits on mail-in, drive-in and early voting.
The ACLU has won 26 victories to safeguard voting rights in 20 states and Puerto Rico. LeBron James’ More Than a Vote has recruited 40,000 poll workers and helped push for NBA arenas to be converted to poll stations. This week the organization launched an operation to combat misinformation among younger Black voters. Michelle Obama’s bipartisan “When we all vote” campaign mobilized an army of mayors, school representatives and neighborhood “voting squad captains.”
In Texas, Voto Latino registered more than 500,000 new voters between May and October. Beto O’Rourke’s Powered By People registered another 100,000, and mobilized more than 7,000 volunteers who have made 6 million calls and 40 million texts.
Democracy is like jazz, musician Wynton Marsalis told the Financial Times. “You’ve got your individual rights – that’s improvisation. You’ve got your responsibility to the group – that’s swing. And you have your optimism and belief that your will and reasoning and choices can make a difference – that’s the blues.”