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Organizers help first-time voters register on National Voter Registration Day. (Photo: @NatlVoterRegDay/Twitter)

"What's Your Voting Plan?" Organizers Urge Americans to Get #VoteReady on National Voter Registration Day

"If we are to protect Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legacy, our health, and our rights, we must kick Donald Trump out of office and take back the Senate."

Julia Conley, staff writer

As the U.S. marked the eighth annual National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, advocacy groups focused on issues ranging from reproductive rights and the climate crisis to immigrant and voting rights urged the public to ensure they are registered to vote in the November 3 general election and have a plan to make sure their voice is heard.  

With partners such as the Democracy Fund, the League of Women Voters, and Voto Latino, the organizers behind National Voter Registration Day aim to register hundreds of thousands of first-time voters and ensure they're ready to cast their ballots in an election in which polling places are expected to face volunteer shortages, many Americans will be voting by mail for the first time, and President Donald Trump has launched a months-long misinformation campaign. 

"Covid has definitely made this a #NationalVoterRegistrationDay unlike any other, but our partner organizations (including campuses) are doing everything from masking up for socially distant registration events to using Zoom events to get folks vote-ready," the organization wrote on social media.

The hashtag #VoteReady went viral on Twitter, with advocates urging users to double check that they are registered to vote where they live, even if they think they already are. 

"Did you know that many states 'purged' their voter rolls, kicking registered voters off without even letting them know?" tweeted writer and podcast host Rebecca Nagle. "Oklahoma, where I live, did that."

After urging voters to make sure their friends as well as their "second cousins, neighbors, ex, dentist, and enemies" were registered to vote, Washington's Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, whose state has conducted elections entirely by mail since 2011, counseled first-time mail-in or absentee voters.  

"Simple, safe and secure—even during a pandemic," Inslee tweeted. 

With the coronavirus pandemic in its sixth month, registered voters in a majority of states this year will either have mail-in ballots automatically mailed to them or will be able to apply for an absentee ballot without providing a reason for needing one. 

Amid concerns about the Trump administration's sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service and Trump's baseless attacks on the validity of a vote-by-mail system, some advocates are promoting their plans to cast their ballots in person ahead of Election Day on November 3.

Days before National Voter Registration Day, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) urged Americans to develop their "voting plan" for 2020, and shared her own—kicking off a social media trend.  

On the National Voter Registration Day website, organizers shared a wealth of resources for first-time voters and anyone who wants to develop a plan to vote.  

Visitors to the site can look up information about what they'll find on their ballots, request a mail-in ballot and find out if their state is one of 39 where they can track their ballot after mailing it, verify their polling location, and sign up to be a poll worker. 

"America is facing a record shortage of poll workers this year due to the coronavirus," said Power the Polls, an initiative to recruit poll workers. "Our democracy depends on ordinary people who make sure elections run smoothly and everyone's vote is counted. You can make sure we have a safe, fair, efficient election for all." 

Organizations including Planned Parenthood, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Sunrise Movement—which on Monday launched an initiative to engage young voters in swing states via phone- and text-banking and a massive "postcards to voters" campaign—joined the call for all voters to develop voting plans and ensure they are registered. 

Planned Parenthood Votes also launched an ad campaign in battleground states focusing on Trump's plan to name a new Supreme Court justice ahead of the election.  

"This is the fight of our lives for tens of millions of people across the country," said Jenny Lawson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes. "A week after the election, the Supreme Court is set to hear a case that could dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the biggest advance for sexual and reproductive health in a generation. Seventeen abortion-related cases are one step away from the Supreme Court. That and so much more is at stake."

"If we are to protect Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legacy, our health, and our rights, we must kick Donald Trump out of office and take back the Senate," she added. "Planned Parenthood Votes and our supporters will not rest until we do."

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