Millions of Americans have already voted early and many millions more will make their voices heard on or before November 3. Voting early is not unique to this year’s election. Voters have decided to vote outside the booth on Election Day for years.
But the sheer numbers this year, along with the fiery tone of the presidential race, may mean that we don’t have all the answers the day after the Nov. 3 election. Organizations may still need to engage their audience and provide information. Phone2Action can help. But first, some context.
Before the pandemic, five states already had default voting by mail fully in place, with every registered voter receiving a ballot in the mail. In 2016, 57.2 million voters cast their ballots early, by mail or via an absentee ballot, which represented nearly 41 percent of all votes counted, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).
How voters choose to vote is not a partisan or political statement. All voters should be encouraged to make a plan to vote that is right for them and their families. The plan to vote should include how, when, and where to vote. Voters can then decide who and what to vote for based on their families, their communities, their values, their beliefs, their issues, their jobs, and their vision for the future.
The Pandemic Election
On Saturday, Oct. 24, many Americans will vote during National Vote Early Day. These individuals will choose to make their voices heard 10 days before Election Day, which should always be considered the last day to vote rather than the only day to vote.
Phone2Action is proud to be a Vote Early Day partner and to encourage organizations and voters to make their voices heard early. Phone2Action employees are voting early and our management has given paid time off to any employee who chooses to vote on Election Day or anytime before then based on whatever voting plan is right for them.
No matter how many people vote early, however, one thing is for certain: the story of the 2020 election will not likely end at midnight on Tuesday, Nov. 3, and not only because of the unique characteristics of organizing an election during a pandemic.
Many pundits are rightfully noting that Donald Trump and Joe Biden may not reach 270 projected electoral votes on Election Night, because mail-in and absentee ballots will not be fully counted by then. On Nov. 3, we may have more unknowns than knowns. Will the majority in the U.S. Senate flip? What will be the balance of power in the U.S. House? How will governors’ races and those for state lawmakers be decided?
People—including your audience—will be hungry for information.
Although you may not be able to provide a firm scorecard of the winners and losers in the 2020 election to your advocates on the morning of Nov. 4, you can still help them get a handle on what is happening.
Phone2Action will be preparing an update with what is known that morning. That update will be available in this blog and, for Phone2Action clients, can be made available on Civic Action Centers. As you begin to prepare your post-election communications strategy, here are a few other milestones and knowns to consider for after Nov. 3:
- Nov. 4 – Dec. 14: Congressional Research Service qualifies this period as the time where “states are to count and eventually certify the vote according to their respective statutory and procedural requirements.”
- Dec. 14: The Electoral Count Act of 1887 requires the electors to meet and vote for the president no more than 41 days out from Election Day. Dec. 14 is 41 days from Nov. 3. Therefore, electors will convene in state capitals and Washington DC to vote for whomever won the popular vote in their state before this date (assuming that electors are bound to the outcome of the popular vote in their state).
- Jan. 6, 2021: The U.S. Congress will meet in a Joint Session at 1 p.m. to review and verify the electors’ votes sent to them. Any candidate requires 270 electoral votes to win the presidency and this event will verify the projected winner based on states’ popular votes.
- Jan. 20, 2021: The Twentieth Amendment, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states that, “The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.”
If a candidate has not conceded or the results of the election have not been decided by Jan. 20 due to litigation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will become acting president.
No matter how things shake out in the 2020 election, the period starting on Nov. 4 will be a time to engage your advocates over the outcome and to help ensure that their voices are heard (especially if the vote count is close and President Trump moves forward with his threats to challenge the results of absentee and mail-in votes sent before the election and counted after Nov. 3 — where allowed by state election rules). People will want to be heard and you can help to make sure their voices are amplified. While doing that, you can also start to plan how your organization will continue to engage in 2021, when a president will be inaugurated, a new Congress will be seated, a State of the Union address will be delivered and state legislatures across the country will head back into session.
Missed the State Of Advocacy Report Key Findings Webinar? No worries, watch the recording here to hear learn the best insights from the Phone2Action team, The National Restaurant Association, The American Nurses Association, Reform Alliance and Lime.
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