OPINION: Change requires a free and fair election

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By RANDI WEINGARTEN
President
American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

Since November 2016, we have seen the consequences of the last presidential election. Donald Trump has helped a lot of billionaires get richer, yet working families are grappling with COVID-19, an economic recession and the effects of racism. Time after time, Trump has proven he’s not fit to solve these problems.

This Nov. 3, we have the chance to change this and elect leaders like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, leaders who will confront the enormous crises we face rather than make them worse. We have the chance to strengthen public education and public services, enable unions, ensure healthcare for all, and restore our democracy and our sense of decency and justice.

This change requires a free and fair election. But we’ve all seen the pictures of voters waiting hours in line to vote. On top of that, Trump has pitched an all-out assault on mail-in voting. We support both mail-in voting and in-person voting as safe, accessible ways to make your voice heard. But we must make sure that safely voting in person is an option. The best way to ensure that people can vote safely in person, early or on Election Day, is to volunteer to be a poll worker.

(Learn how you can sign up to be a poll worker at powerthepolls.org/aft.)

SHORTAGE OF POLL WORKERS
In past elections, the majority of poll workers were retired Americans, and many were 60 years old or older. But with COVID-19 still spreading across the country, many seniors justifiably don’t feel comfortable working the polls this year, leaving many states and communities with a shortage of poll workers.

With fewer poll workers, states and communities may have to close polling places. These closures and shortages could lead to longer lines, longer waits and more voter disenfranchisement at a time when everyone’s voice must be heard. We can’t let this happen.

FIGHT FOR OUR DEMOCRACY
AFT members and retirees have been working in polling places across the country for decades, doing incredible work to keep voting locations running smoothly. Their dedication, combined with the urgent need for more workers, has inspired me to do my part and sign up to work the polls. As a history teacher, I taught hundreds of students at Clara Barton High School how important civic engagement is and how voting in elections is only half the battle. This is our chance to take action and fight for our democracy.

I know this is a big ask. But by signing up to work the polls this election, we can help millions of Americans cast their ballots safely and securely.

Learn how you can volunteer at powerthepolls.org/aft.

We’re proud at the AFT to say that we care, we fight, we show up, and we vote. This is our chance to show up.

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