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THE BLACK WOMAN’S GUIDE TO THE 2020 Election 

INTRODUCTION

As we write this guide, there’s American carnage (to borrow a phrase) on the U.S. political and socio-economic scene. 

  • As of August 2020, over 4.5 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, and over 150,000 Americans have died from it.  Black and brown people have been disproportionately impacted by the virus; most of us have someone in our lives who has been sick or died from COVID-19.
  • Lots of people are worried about going to the polls on November 3rd, 2020 and catching COVID-19 because of a disorganized voting process. (We saw what happened in Georgia where folks waited for hours to vote in the June primary!)  Meanwhile, the Republican party is fighting efforts to enable us to safely cast our ballots by mail; they worry they’ll lose if all Americans votes! 
  • Over 30 million Americans are unemployed as a result of an economic downturn that has sprung from the virus; many of these folks are Black and brown people.  Health and economic problems are making a lot of people feel hopeless.  
  • Following the 8 minute and 15 seconds of video of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police (as well as the murders of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery) hundreds of thousands of Americans are crying for justice and have reignited a new movement to end police brutality against Black people in this country. It seems like many Americans finally gets what we have been saying all along, #BlackLivesMatter. 
  • As if that weren’t enough, American intelligence officials have reported that Russians are interfering in our elections (AGAIN) to help reelect Trump.

What’s a Black woman to do? 

We have to admit it—we’ve spent more than a few nights sitting on the couch, eating ice cream, and asking the same question. But since overeating never changed anything, we decided to update and re-release this election guide.

We hope you use it to stay optimistic and get engaged, because as crazy as our country may seem, the 2020 elections are still an excellent opportunity for us to: 

  • Be heard at every level of government
  • Lift up the issues that matter most to us
  • Elect more of our own and ensure fair representation
  • Build y(our) political power

Never forget.  Black women—like you—are powerful.  (Even the Russians have figured this out!)  And our superpower is collective action.  When we fight together, we win!

In love and solidarity,

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“If you hear the dogs, KEEP GOING. If you see the torches in the woods, KEEP GOING. If there’s shouting after you, KEEP GOING. Don’t ever stop. KEEP GOING. If you want a taste of freedom, KEEP GOING.

6 EASY steps to get your vote on!

The experts agree that 2020 could be one of our biggest election years ever! That’s exciting, but it also means that there could be trouble ahead for Black voters. Trump and the Republican Party have shown us time and time again that they are determined to block our political power. In many states, make no mistake, they will try to stop us from voting. 

According to Carol Anderson, Emory University professor and author of One Person, No Vote:  

“The only way that Republicans can protect themselves and a rogue president is to suppress the votes of minorities, the young, and the poor (all of whom vote overwhelmingly for Democrats). In 2020, we’re poised to see more voter intimidation, criminalizing of voter registration drives, disguised poll taxes, attempts to maintain extreme partisan gerrymandered districts, draconian and flawed voter roll purges, squashing access to voting on college campuses, widespread purchase of hackable voting machines, and a slew of unqualified, rightwing judges appointed to the federal bench to provide legal sanction to the destruction of democracy.” 

Given all this, what can you do? Here are several things that you can do right now to prepare for your state elections, primaries, and Election Day on November 3, 2020. 

1. REGISTER, REGISTER, REGISTER.

  • If you are not registered to vote, you can’t vote, so…you need to register now!
  • If you are not sure if you are registered or if you are concerned that you might have been removed from the election rolls, check here! (If you’ve moved in the last few years—even if only to the apartment next door—it’s especially important to check.)
  • If you haven’t registered yet, change that now.  Register to vote online through Vote.org.
  • Find the deadlines for registration in your state here, along with handy-dandy online voter registration forms. Simply click on the name of your state.

Please note: Most states require new voters to register several weeks before the election in order for them to be allowed to vote on election day. Go register, now!

2. VOTE EARLY!

What is early voting?  Early voting is just what it sounds like—voting early! It takes place in person on certain scheduled days before November 3, 2020, which is Election Day. Many states also allow early voting for state primaries.

Pro tip: You can vote early even if you are capable of getting to the polls on Election Day. 

Early voting is THE BEST because you can avoid the long lines and other hassles that might exist on November 3, 2020.

Find out if your state has early voting by looking here. And go put that ballot in the box early on!

3. CHECK TO SEE IF YOU NEED AN ID.

This is a biggie. We know that folks are being stopped from voting because of restrictive voter ID laws and/or uninformed poll workers. So you need to know your rights! 

Check here for voter ID laws to determine what (if any) verification is needed to cast your vote in your state. Be prepared and know what you need to bring before you get to your polling place. 

4. CONFIRM THE LOCATION OF YOUR POLLING PLACE.

Ladies, do not assume that your polling place is the same as it was in the last election.  One of the new tricks to block registered voters (like us!) from voting is to close polling places without notice to those affected.

Check the location of your polling place before you head out to vote by contacting your local board of elections or by going to Vote.Org’s polling locator.

To use this site, scroll down the page and use the section that directs you to your state.  It requires you to type in your personal information to confirm that you are a registered voter before you can locate your polling place.

5. CAN’T VOTE IN PERSON? CAST AN ABSENTEE BALLOT.

Because of COVID-19, many people are afraid to vote in person amidst big crowds at polling places.  They’d prefer to vote by mail.  The good news is that 34 states and the District of Columbia are making it easier to LIVE and VOTE by offering vote-by-mail options

But listen up!  Unless you are a resident of Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, or Hawaii (I wish!), you may have to request an absentee ballot to vote by mail.

What is an absentee ballot? Absentee voting, aka “mail-in voting,” is conducted before Election Day. All states mail ballots to voters if certain conditions are met. The voter may then return the ballot in person or by mail. 

Please note: Rules for absentee voting vary by state. For example, some states require voters to provide a reason for voting by absentee ballot, while others offer absentee voting on demand. Some states even let voters apply for an absentee ballot in person before Election Day and then vote the ballot that same day.

The point is, you need to know the rules for your state.

Go to Vote.org to find the rules and deadlines for requesting an absentee ballot in your state.

6. CAN’T CAST THAT BALLOT?  CALL A LAWYER!

From the precinct bosses to the election judges, there are lots of actors who have a role to play in protecting the integrity of our election process. Things usually go well. You vote, and you get an “I VOTED” sticker! But occasionally problems arise. In those instances, some of the most helpful actors can be the lawyers who are on guard, either in person or by telephone, to provide election protection.

For Election Day 2020, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law will be on location, looking out for the electorate. In other instances, they will only be a phone call away. They are “the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition of more than 100 partners,” and they lead election protection efforts nationwide. 

Their dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, visit www.866ourvote.org.

Take the hotline number with you on election day.  If there are no onsite lawyers and you need help with a voting issue, call the hotline.

That’s it!  You’re ready for the 2020 election.

Happy voting!

“Every year we have an opportunity to not only change government, to not only improve our communities, but to create a real democracy that works for everyone. I know politics is exhausting sometimes but I will never get tired of fighting for my communities.”

What is the 2020 Election?

Mark your calendar!  The 2020 U.S. election will be held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020

All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate, and the office of president of the United States are up for grabs. In addition, we will elect hundreds of state and local officials and 13 governors.

SO WHAT AND WHO CARES?

That’s kind of a rhetorical question. We know that for most Black women, voting is a habit, so we will be at the polls. We care, a lot! But just in case you or someone you know isn’t convinced that they should exercise their power in the 2020 political process, here are five important reasons to get your vote on! 

1. DONALD TRUMP HAS GOT TO GO.

We know that Donald Trump represents a clear and present danger to the economic, social, mental, and physical well-being of Black women. For that alone, he has to go. But he’s also a threat to our democracy. That’s why he was impeached by Congress and is being investigated by several federal and state prosecutors. This is our chance to boot him out of Washington and start to reverse the damage he has caused. For that to happen, we need to commit to voting for and supporting the Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running mate once the primaries are over, no matter who it is. “Vote blue, no matter who” may not feel inspiring, but the prospect of having a president who isn’t a criminally deranged madman certainly is!

There is also much more than the White House at stake this year. Let us explain!

 2. THE COURTS ARE BECOMING EXTREMELY CONSERVATIVE.

In his three years in office, Trump—with considerable help from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who refused to fill court vacancies when Obama was president—has appointed two justices to the Supreme Court and more than 300 judges at the federal, district, and circuit court levels. A recent Vox article notes that no president in recent history has done as much to change the judiciary as Trump. This is definitely not good for us. 

His appointees are hardcore conservatives, many of whom—according to judicial screeners at the American Bar Association—are not even qualified for their jobs. Yet they are positioned to make decisions about issues important to us, like voting rights, reproductive justice, fair housing, environmental protection, and more. They can set progress back for generations. 

We must install new senators who will resist the push to politicize the courts.  We must also call, write, and email our senators and tell them to vote against confirming these judges. Click here to find out who your senator is if you are unsure. Then phone them via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. We should also ask all candidates for the House of Representatives and Senate what their plans are to protect the courts and our rights. No one should get our vote without being asked to address this issue. 

3. Partisan Gerrymandering Has Got to STOP.

The 2020 census is right around the corner, and we need to make sure that #BlackWomenCount. Most people think of the census as important for knowing how many people live in the United States. That’s correct, but it’s also about how boundaries for congressional and state districts get determined and how many elected representatives we get. 

Republicans will cheat, gerrymander, and try their hardest to make sure they have as many chances as possible to be in power. Though the 2018 midterms brought some gains for Democrats, Republicans still hold control of the majority of state legislatures and governorships. And guess who draws the congressional and legislative districts in most states—that’s right, state legislatures. That means that the state legislators we elect in 2020 will use the results of the 2020 census to determine how to reapportion our state and congressional districts in 2021.

Federal funds to state and local governments and communities for education programs, aid to our families, housing grants, and more also come from the census. You will most likely receive your census form in the mail. So, get counted by filling it out, and make sure we get the representation and federal funding we need.

Pro tip: Gerrymandering is intentionally manipulating the boundaries of voting districts to give an advantage to one group or party, and today it is often used to dilute the power of Black and Democratic voters.  

4. THE GOP-CONTROLLED SENATE IS STYMIEING US.

Winning back the presidency will be a huge step forward, but we won’t be able to make transformative change for ourselves and our families unless we flip the Republican-controlled Senate. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to and support Senate races in key states, even in states where you are not a resident.  

According to Steve Phillips, founder of Democracy in Color, there are 12 states in particular where Democrats could be elected to the Senate. See the chart below.

 

2020 Senate Seat Winnability Rating
COLORADO 100
ARIZONA 90
GEORGIA SPECIAL 85
MAINE 80
NORTH CAROLINA 80
GEORGIA 80
TEXAS 65
IOWA 60
MISSISSIPPI 50
KENTUCKY 45
ALABAMA 45
MONTANA 40
SOUTH CAROLINA 35

If you live in one of these Senate swing states, please, dear God, VOTE!  If you live in another state, learn more about Democratic candidates like Amy McGrath and John Hickenlooper, who are vying for these seats in Kentucky and Colorado, respectively, and consider donating to their campaigns.  Let’s take the Senate in 2020!

5. WHEN WE FIGHT, WE WIN!

We already know that when we fight together, we win. Here’s a reminder of our success.

In 2018, we turned the U.S. House of Representatives blue, got close to electing America’s first Black woman governor in Georgia (we still have high hopes that Stacey Abrams will run for president someday!) and restored the right to vote to 1.4 million Floridians with felony convictions. 

In 2019, we helped turn Virginia blue, giving Democrats control of the State Senate and House of Delegates and making it possible for Virginia to be the 38th state in the union to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.  (Thank you, Delegate Jennifer D. Carroll Foy!)  

In 2020, we’ve got a chance to elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in Georgia, and even Texas (yes, Texas!) is bracing for a blue wave in 2020. Instead of building walls, Black women are taking over the South and building community and an infrastructure that can advance more inclusive governance for the future. Yes, we can! 

If we all vote on November 3, 2020, we will keep the U.S. House of Representatives blue, and our votes can turn the U.S. Senate blue as well. #WhenWeFightWeWin

“FREEDOM IS NEVER REALLY WON. YOU EARN IT AND WIN IT IN EVERY GENERATION.”

When and Where Does Voting Take Place?

ELECTION DAY IS NOVEMBER 3, 2020.

With statewide elections and a presidential election on the horizon, there’s a whole lot of voting to do in 2020.  We’re voting this year for people to represent us in Washington, D.C., and also for our local representatives (like state senators, governors, mayors, etc.).

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has thrown us all for a loop and many primaries have been rescheduled, postponed, and cancelled. Go to the National Conference of State Legislatures to learn more and to find the date of your primary for state and local offices. 

Pro tip: Some states allow early voting in the primaries to make it easier for you to cast your ballot.

“Let’s stand together, stick together, and work together for justice of every description. Racial justice. Gender justice. Immigrant justice. Economic justice. Environmental justice.”

18 Great Reasons to Vote

OUR ISSUES

If kicking Trump out isn’t enough of a reason for you to get your vote on this year, here are 18 other great rationales for voting.  Why are you voting in 2020? Email us to let us know. 

  1. End systemic racism!
  2. Secure equal pay for equal work and raise wages for “essential workers”.
  3. Expand health care to EVERYONE and make it less expensive.
  4. Reform our criminal justice system and end police brutality.
  5. Raise the federal minimum wage.
  6. Protect our right to choose what we do with our own bodies.
  7. Get big money out of politics.
  8. Fully fund public education and create a path to a college degree for anyone who wants one.
  9. Create a national savings plan for every newborn in the U.S.
  10. Enact reparations for African Americans.
  11. Reduce or eliminate student loan debt.
  12. Make our neighborhoods safer. Enact gun control legislation.
  13. Provide FREE pre-K to every child in the U.S.
  14. Legalize marijuana in every state.
  15. Make it easier, not harder, for immigrants to come to the U.S. No more kids in jails!
  16. Institute universal basic income.
  17. End environmental racism and fight for environmental protections for all.
  18. Stop giving tax breaks to corporations and the rich.

    “We have the power to redraw the image of leadership so we can all see ourselves reflected in its face.”

    WHO IS RUNNING? KEY BLACK WOMEN TO WATCH in 2020.

    In 2020, we are all eager to elect a new POTUS in order to get Donald Trump out of office.  Joe Biden is our Democratic nominee and we couldn’t be more thrilled that Senator Kamala Harris is his running mate!

    WHEN we win, she will be the first Black women to serve as Vice President of the United States of America! Visit their campaign to learn more.

    We’re also highlighting some of our sisters running for Congress.  Be sure to check back often—we will keep this list updated as the races unfold!

    U.S. Representatives Running for Reelection

    U.S. Representatives Running for Reelection

    Rep. Jahana Hayes (CT)

    On the ballot on Nov. 3rd!

    Rep. Lucy McBath (GA)

    Won her primary!

    Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN)

    Won her primary!

    Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA)

    Won her primary!

    Rep. Terri Sewell (AL)

    On the ballot on Nov. 3rd!

    Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL)

    Won her primary!

    Candidates Running for U.S. Senate

    Candidates Running for U.S. Senate

    Marquita Bradshaw (TN)

    Won her primary!

    Amanda Edwards (TX)

    Lost her primary

    Tamara Johnson-Shealey (GA)

    On the ballot on Nov. 3rd!

     Stephany Rose Spaulding (CO)

    Dropped out of the race

    Candidates Running for U.S. House of Representatives

    Candidates Running for U.S. House of Representatives

    Adrienne Bell (TX-14)

    Won her primary!

    Cori Bush (MO-1)

    Won her primary!

    Joyce Elliott (AR-2)

    On the ballot on November 3rd!

    Rhonda Foxx (NC-6)

    Lost her primary

    Jackie Gordon (NY-2)

    On the ballot on Nov. 3rd!

    Pam Keith (FL-18)

    Won her primary!

     

    Danyell Lanier (OK-2)

    On the ballot on Nov. 3rd!

     

    Marilyn Strickland (WA-10)

    Won her primary!

     

    Dee Thornton (IN-5)

    Lost her primary

    Pat Timmons-Goodson (NC-8)

    On the ballot on Nov. 3rd!

    Desiree Tims (OH-10)

    Won her primary!

    Candace Valenzuela (TX-24)

    Won her primary!

    Cynthia Wallace (NC-09)

    Won her primary!

    Mckayla Wilkes (MD-5)

    Lost her primary

    We compiled this list by referencing Brand New Congress, Higher Heights for America PAC, Center for American Women and Politics, The Collective PAC, and Emily’s List. 

    Know of a Black woman who should be on this list? Email us.

    “My mother informed me that the way to be a change agent to create change, the first line of defense, or however you want to phrase that, is politics and government.”

    GET INVOLVED! FOLLOW tHE 4 v’S.

    VOTE

    We know and you know that the most important way you can make change in 2020 is to vote. This means voting no matter what—even if you don’t feel great, have a really busy day at work, or aren’t thrilled by the candidates. Think of voting as a “must do,” like returning your library books.

    Definitely vote for a new POTUS, but also be sure to vote for your elected officials at the state and local levels, who may have an even greater impact on your daily life and the lives of those you love. 

    To vote in the primaries, your state elections, and the 2020 federal elections, you must be a registered voter.  

    Here’s what you need to know. 

    • Head over to Vote.org. They have everything you need!
    • Check your registration status in 30 seconds.
    • Register to vote.
    • Determine your voter registration deadlines.
    • Find out voting ID requirements for your state.

    See 6 Easy Steps to Get Your Vote On! for more information.

    “VOLUNTEER

    In addition to voting, there are plenty of ways to get involved in the elections. You can empower your friends and family by encouraging them to vote and helping them to get to the polls.  You can get involved by volunteering for a campaign and supporting your favorite candidate.

    As noted in Marie Claire:

    “Working for any kind of campaign—mayoral, congressional, presidential—is a way for anybody to directly help create governmental change. Volunteers have an integral role in the outcome of the election by, among other things, registering and mobilizing voters.” 

    Here’s how to get started.

    • Learn about the candidate you’re interested in supporting. 
    • Research their values and the issues they seek to promote. 
    • Contact their local campaign office and tell them you want to volunteer your time.  
    • Sign up!  Volunteer opportunities on campaigns abound and include: 
      • door knocking
      • phone banking
      • creating and executing “meet and greets” with the candidate
      • data entry 
      • creating yard signs
      • stamping envelopes
      • and more!

    Regardless of how you choose to get involved, your support of a campaign and candidate can have a great impact on the success and morale of the campaign.

    GIVE

    We all know that running for office ain’t cheap! And you won’t be surprised to learn that Black women have a harder time raising money than others.

    The authors of Race, Gender, and Money in Politics: Campaign Finance and Federal Candidates in the 2018 Midterms found:

    “Regardless of the type of election, Black women raised the least amount of money in 2018. Among female candidates, Black women have raised half as much as Asian American/Pacific Islander candidates or white candidates. This difference exists among male candidates but is not as pronounced.”

    See also the table below.

    Table 5: Average total receipts by race/ethnicity and gender, House general election candidates 

    Men Women
    Asian/Pacific Islander $2,316,719 (19) $1,909,018 (16) 
    Black/African American $1,144,997 (46) $933,917 (43) 
    Hispanic $1,507,530 (38) $1,363,349 (20) 
    Indigenous $2,104,203 (4) $3,445,735 (2) 
    White $1,673,806 (475) $2,017,768 (155) 
    Middle East/North Africa $2,104,203 (2) $1,592,220 (1) 

     

    Supporting candidates financially is not hard to do. Just follow these steps:

    1. Choose a candidate to support. 
    2. Visit their campaign website and learn more about their stance on the issues. (Make a donation!)
    3. Invite the candidate to address a group of your friends. 
    4. Spread the word!
    5. Listen to their stump speech and ask your questions.
    6. Solicit donations.
    7. Rinse and repeat! 

    For more information on Black women (and men) running for office in 2020 and how to support them, check out Higher Heights for America PAC and The Collective PAC. Both organizations provide comprehensive support to Black women (and men) running for office in state and federal elections. If you can, consider making a donation to these organizations too. 

    BELIEVE

    We’re not going to lie. With so much in front of us this year, staying hopeful and engaged is a struggle. Our country is definitely in the midst of a social, economic, and constitutional crisis, and this election will be one of the most consequential.  

    That said, 2020 is also a year for opportunity and optimism. That’s why our fourth V is for Believe.  

    Over the next several months, we have the opportunity and power to do what Congress could or would not do and get this president out. We have the chance to course-correct the last four years and enact our vision for a more perfect and prosperous union.

    Like Harriet Tubman, we must KEEP GOING and keep building our political power at the local, state, and federal levels. We already know what can happen when Black women get involved and get in formation.  We win.

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