At the American Composers Forum, we are doing our part as advocates to provide you with the information you need to be informed participants in our democratic process. The election has been described as many as an “election of a lifetime” and its outcome will impact generations to come. Our cultural spaces are our community spaces. Our creative community is our social fabric. We ALL have a role to play in our democracy. Let’s get to work!
Today, we are 5 days out from the 2020 Election in the U.S., and while there is so much happening in the world, we can’t lose sight of the importance of this election for our democracy and for the performing arts—in our neighborhoods, in the U.S., and around the globe.
We hope you will take time to look at the TAKE ACTION section of this page. Together, we have an opportunity to maximize voter engagement by activating our spaces, organizations and ourselves across the country in service to every eligible citizen’s right to vote.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020
As Part of our UNEVEN MEASURES project, I CARE IF YOU LISTEN asked Natalie Calma, JoAnn Falletta, Libby Larsen, Alysia Lee, Nebal Maysaud, Angélica Negrón, Paola Prestini, Aeryn Santillan, Alex Temple, and Wang Jie to respond to the prompt:
Part II of this essay will be published on Election Day.
More UNEVEN MEASURES content can be found here.
We encourage you to engage in the process in these 3 ways:
We are stronger together.
Register to Vote
The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and yet laws protecting this right have not always been enforced equitably, even in 2020, leaving some outside of the process. It is important that we continue to work to expand voter protection, increase participation, and ensure the integrity of our democracy. If you are eligible to vote, below are resources to help you to register in your state.
* Voter Registration Deadlines
Below are the voter registration deadlines for voting in the federal election for each of the 50 states, Washington, DC and the U.S. territories. Click on the state to find out how to register and/or register with your secretary of state. State election websites also provide polling place locators and voter ID requirements (i.e. current driver’s license or state-issued ID).
- Alabama – October 19, 2020
- Alaska – October 19, 2020
- Arizona – October 19, 2020
- Arkansas – October 5, 2020
- California – October 19, 2020
- Colorado – November 3, 2020
- Connecticut – October 27, 2020
- District of Columbia – October 13, 2020
- Delaware – October 10, 2020
- Florida – October 5, 2020
- Georgia – October 5, 2020
- Hawaii – October 5, 2020
- Idaho – October 6, 2020
- Illinois – October 6, 2020
- Indiana – October 5, 2020
- Iowa – October 24, 2020
- Kansas – October 13, 2020
- Kentucky – October 5, 2020
- Louisiana – October 5, 2020
- Maine – October 13, 2020
- Maryland – October 5, 2020
- Massachusetts – October 24, 2020
- Michigan – October 19, 2020
- Minnesota – October 13, 2020
- Mississippi – October 5, 2020
- Missouri – October 7, 2020
- Montana – October 5, 2020
- Nebraska – October 16, 2020
- Nevada – October 6, 2020
- New Hampshire – November 3, 2020
- New Jersey – October 13, 2020
- New Mexico – October 6, 2020
- New York – October 9, 2020
- North Carolina – October 9, 2020
- North Dakota – Does not require voter registration
- Ohio – October 5, 2020
- Oklahoma – October 9, 2020
- Oregon – October 13, 2020
- Pennsylvania – October 19, 2020
- Rhode Island – October 4, 2020
- South Carolina – October 2, 2020
- South Dakota – October 19, 2020
- Tennessee – October 5, 2020
- Texas – October 5, 2020
- Utah – October 23, 2020
- Vermont – November 3, 2020
- Virginia – October 13, 2020
- Washington – October 26, 2020
- West Virginia – October 13, 2020
- Wisconsin – October 14, 2020
- Wyoming – October 19, 2020
- American Samoa – October 5, 2020
- Guam – October 23, 2020
- Northern Marianas Islands – September 4, 2020
- Puerto Rico – September 15, 2020
- U.S Virgin Islands – October 23, 2020
* Most of the Information is compiled from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), an independent, bipartisan commission established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, that serves to be a national clearinghouse of information on election administration.
Make a Voting Plan
How will you cast your vote?
Vote planning is a technique to ensure voters turnout to the polls. The goal of a vote plan is to encourage an individual to envision themselves voting and identify any potential barriers they might have or encounter. You can make a vote plan for yourself or with someone when phone banking, canvassing, or in normal conversation.
When creating your Voting Plan, ask yourself these questions:
- What time will you be voting?
- Where are you voting?
- Do you have a mail-in ballot or are you going to the polls?
- How are you getting there?
- Do you need a ride?
- Who else can you bring with you?
- Do you need to take off work or secure childcare?
- In states with voter I.D. laws: Do you have all the necessary documents to vote?
Vote by Mail
Due to the current pandemic, all states have established and implemented processes for their residents to request and mail in their voting ballots for the November 2020 elections either through absentee voting (AV) or by vote by mail (VBM). What’s the difference? Please note the deadlines to submit AV or VBM applications in order to receive a mail-in ballot by mail below. Click on the link for your state to get specific instructions and guidance. Please note that the deadline to apply via mail for AV or VBM ballots may be different than the deadline to apply via in-person and/or online for your state. Moreover, ACF encourages its voters to request and mail in their ballots as soon as possible to ensure they are received by the local election office in a timely manner and by November 3, if not earlier.
- Alabama – AV – 5th calendar day prior to election day
- Alaska – AV – 10 days prior to election day
- Arizona – VBM – 10 days prior to election day
- Arkansas – AV – 7 days prior to election day
- California – VBM – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters
- Colorado – VBM – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters; any address changes – 8 days prior to election day
- Connecticut – AV – 7 days prior to election day
- District of Columbia – VBM – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters
- Delaware – VBM – 4 days prior to election day
- Florida – VBM – 10 days prior to election day
- Georgia – AB – 4 days prior to election day
- Hawaii – VBM – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters
- Idaho – AV – 11 days prior to election day
- Illinois – VBM – October 6, 2020
- Indiana – AV – October 22, 2020
- Iowa – AV – 10 days prior to election day
- Kansas – VBM – October 27, 2020
- Kentucky – AV – October 9, 2020
- Louisiana – AV – 4 days prior to election day
- Maine – AV – October 29, 2020
- Maryland – VBM October 20, 2020
- Massachusetts – VBM – October 20, 2020
- Michigan – AV – Friday before election day
- Minnesota – VBM – before election day
- Mississippi – AV – before election day
- Missouri – VBM – 2nd Wed. prior to election day
- Montana – AV – day before election day
- Nebraska – AV – October 23, 2020
- Nevada – AV – 14TH calendar day prior to election day
- New Hampshire – AV – 7 days prior to election
- New Jersey – VBM – 7 days prior to the election day
- New Mexico – AV – October 20, 2020
- New York – AV – 7 days prior to election day
- North Carolina – AV – October 27, 2020
- North Dakota –AV – 7 days prior to election day
- Ohio – AV – 3 days prior to election day
- Oklahoma – AV – 6 days prior to election day
- Oregon – VBM – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters; address change at least 5 days before Election Day
- Pennsylvania – VBM – October 27, 2020
- Rhode Island – VBM – October 13, 2020
- South Carolina – AV – 4th day prior to election day
- South Dakota – AV – Will automatically send AV applications to all registered voters
- Tennessee – AV – October 27, 2020
- Texas – VBM – 11th day prior to election day
- Utah – VBM – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters
- Vermont – AV – 1 day prior to election day
- Virginia – AV – 11th day prior to election day
- Washington – Ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters
- West Virginia – AV – 6th day prior to election day
- Wisconsin – AV – October 29, 2020
- Wyoming – Before election day
- American Samoa – AV – Before election day
- Guam – AV – October 30, 2020
- Northern Marianas Islands – AV – Before election day
- Puerto Rico – AV – September 19, 2020
- U.S Virgin Islands – AV – Before election day
Vote in Person
This includes voting on election day or on an early voting day at your local polling station. Early voting rules vary vastly from state to state. Below are some helpful links for voting in person:
Learn about your ballot
- 2020 Democratic Party Platform
- BallotReady: Every candidate and referendum, explained
- Current Presidential Administration’s Second Term Agenda
- Fact checking websites: FactCheck.org & Politifact
- U.S. House Republican Party Policy Platform: Committment to America
- VOTE411: Learn about candidates running for office in your community
- Vote Smart: Discover which candidate’s views are most aligned with yours
Be an Election Worker on Election Day
As coronavirus continues to impact Americans across the country, we are also seeing a staggering decrease in poll workers — which could mean closed polling places and long delays for elections in 2020. You can help make sure we have a safe, fair, efficient election for all voters, and potentially get paid to do it. Visit Power the Polls to learn more.
Engaging Candidates on the Issues
Besides voting and voting early, there will be numerous opportunities this fall to engage in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, candidate forums, debates, social media chats, and town halls. Nonprofit VOTE has great information about effectively engaging political candidates. Below are a listing of major issues impacting the arts sector.
Candidates from all political leanings need to know how the pandemic has impacted your organization, individual artists, and the arts sector. It is important that they know how you, your organization, and the arts sector can be supported during the pandemic and beyond to thrive as the arts sector is a unique and major contributor to the state and local economy. Most state arts councils have economic data that you can share with political candidates about the arts sector’s economic contributions beyond the cultural and creative contributions.
Key Policy Issues
- National Endowment for the Arts (NEA): Promoting Creativity and Public Access to the Arts
- Tax Policy: Encouraging Charitable Giving and Supporting Public Access to the Arts
- Tax Fairness for Artists and Writers: Strengthening the Creative Sector and Providing Public Access to America’s Artistic Heritage
- Improving the Visa Process for Foreign Guest Artists
- Cultural Exchanges Through the U.S. Department of State: Strengthening Ties Between the United States and the World
- Reinforcing Arts Education – Helping Children Achieve in School, Work, and Life
- Funding the Assistance for Arts Education Grant Program at the U.S. Department of Education: Improving Access to Arts Education for All Students
- Boosting the Creative Economy – Supporting Artists, Entrepreneurs, and Small Business
- Protecting Wireless Technology for the Arts at the Federal Communications Commission
Additional Policy Issues
- Fair Compensation for Music Creators – Supporting All Artists’ Right to Earn Fair Compensation on Terrestrial Radio
- Office of Museum Services (OMS) – Promoting Lifelong Learning and Protecting Our National Heritage
- Corporation for Public Broadcasting – Supporting Public Broadcasting as Part of Our National Arts Infrastructure
- Strengthening the Arts in Higher Education: Putting Students on a Path for an Affordable Future
- Arts in Healthcare
- The Arts and Juvenile Justice
- Arts and the Military: Improving the Health of Active Military and Veterans Through the Arts
- Arts in Transportation and Infrastructure: Supporting Art in Public Transit Projects
- Net Neutrality: Preserving an Open Internet
Other Important Resources
Below are additional resources to inform voters during the November 2020 elections at all levels. Please note that American Composers Forum is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse or oppose any political candidates or political parties.
- ArtsVote – Americans for the Arts Action Fund
- Congressional Arts Handbook – Americans for the Arts
- Headcount – Stages voter registration drives at concerts and runs programs that translate the power of music and culture into real action.
General Voter Engagement Resources and Information
- Voto Latino – A grassroots political organization focused on educating and empowering a new generation of Latinx voters, as well as creating a more robust and inclusive democracy.
- Voting and Civic Engagement – National Urban League
- RocktheVote – A nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to building the political power of young people.
- I AM A VOTER – A nonpartisan movement that aims to create a cultural shift around voting and civic engagement by unifying around a central truth: our democracy works best when we all participate.
- Ride to the Polls – Initiative by Lyft, the ride-sharing company
- Get to the Polls – Initiative by Uber, the ride-sharing company
- Polling Place Locator – Developed by Vote.org
- Voting, Accessibility, and the Law – Developed by the National Federation of the Blind
- Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities – Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice
- Vote.org – The largest 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan voting registration, and get out the vote (GOTV) technology platform in America.
- Nonprofitvote.org – Provides resources to help nonprofit organizations integrate voter engagement into their ongoing activities and services.
- U.S. 2020 Voting Information Center – Facebook
- Vote411 – developed by the League of Women Voters Action Fund that provides voting resources and information for voters across the country. State and local affiliates host various candidate forums during the election season.
- Nonprofits and Elections – National Council of Nonprofits
- When We All Vote – A non-profit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to increase participation in every election and close race and age voting gaps by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American.
- #VoteTogether – A nonpartisan initiative that is transforming the culture around voter participation from an isolated, unfamiliar activity to a celebratory event.
- ElectionDay – An initiative by business leaders working to strengthen American democracy.
- Can I Vote – An initiative developed by the National Association of Secretaries of State.
- U.S. Election Assistance Commission