Black communities have been dealing with a multitude of crises this year. We’re all collectively outraged and emotionally exhausted by police violence, COVID-19 and the recession. That’s why we’re already seeing a larger early voter turnout than previous years. People are energized to show up and vote because they know what’s at stake for our communities—but once we vote early, there’s still work to be done to fight for others to have the same opportunity.
Some companies are forcing their employees to choose between participating in democracy or being financially punished for voting. Corporations like Amazon need to go beyond the statement to protect their employees and our democracy. It’s not enough to tell people to vote, and voting is not a privilege for salaried workers. In an election that will greatly shape the country’s pandemic response, essential workers have a right to cast their ballots.
If voting wasn’t important, bad actors and enablers would not be trying so hard to silence our voices at the polls. Billion-dollar companies like Amazon, AT&T, Home Depot, and major grocery store chain Albertsons rely on Black hourly workers to drive their profits, but they’re doing little to protect their voting rights. Many of these essential, hourly working employees—the majority of whom are Black—have been risking their lives in the pandemic, yet are obligated to use paid time off if they want to participate in democracy. When employers don’t offer paid time off to vote, that extra time spent voting translates to less money to pay the bills.
Our health, safety, and lives are on the ballot and with a few days left of voting, we still have a chance to make our voices heard by getting out and voting. If you haven’t voted yet, it’s not too late to make your voting plan. There are still several things you can do to help ensure a free, fair, and safe voting experience for yourself and other Black voters.
- For those voting in person on election day, know your polling location, stay in line, know your rights, and stay alert of those who might be seeking to intimidate voters.
- If you’ve already submitted your ballot by mail, make sure to track it. Most states allow you to go to your local election officials’ website to confirm your ballot arrived and make sure it’s counted. We’ve put together this quick guide to make sure that you have all the information you need to make sure your absentee vote gets counted this election.
- If your ballot was rejected, there’s still time to fix it and ensure your vote is counted. Many states allow voters to “cure” or fix their ballots if they have been initially rejected.
- If you are interested in helping others vote, consider signing up to be a poll worker, or joining Election Defenders to protect democracy. Poll workers are still urgently needed in many Black communities, especially in battleground states – they receive training and PPE, and are paid for their service in most states.
Corporations can’t say Black Lives Matter and profit from Black culture when they can’t even commit to protecting their employees during a pandemic or closing their franchises on Election Day so that their employees can vote. While some people may have already voted early in person, there are still folks who depend on in-person voting to provide the accommodations they need. We’ve already seen the long lines in early votes across the country—essential workers deserve to vote without paying a price financially.
To vote is to vote for a better future—a future where racial and economic justice is paramount. It’s another way to build our political and community power alongside the protesting and organizing folks have done over the years to dismantle the systems and demand accountability from those who harm Black people. We can use our votes as a form of protest and continue to advocate for the systemic changes our communities need to live and thrive safely. Make a plan to vote today. Don’t let them disrupt your rights.