Right To Be
Voting in a Heightened Political Climate: Protecting Your Vote, Yourself, and Your Community
Our Partners

Right To Be is a proud partner of the Women Are Voting campaign. Women Are Voting is a coalition of nearly 50 national, state, and local organizations that are dedicated to providing women with the tools to claim our power as the strongest voting bloc in the country.

Voting is one of our most sacred freedoms  — everyone should be able to cast a ballot safely, without barriers or threats. For most, the process of voting is a joyous and empowering experience, and we want to keep it that way. For that reason, we have created this resource to help make the process simple, and to make sure that you have the tools that you need to protect your freedom to vote if you face any barriers. We hope the information in this resource helps you feel as prepared as possible to cast your vote.

 

Prepare to Vote

Make sure you have everything you need to vote by visiting the Vote 411 voting plan checklist, developed by Women Are Voting coalition member the League of Women Voters of the United States, and utilizing the resources below!

    • The ID you need to vote in your state: you can find out at this link or using this map.
    • Water
    • A snack
    • A jacket/extra layer to wear, in case it gets cold or rains
    • Anything you might need if you have to wait in a long line. For instance, if you take any medications and might need them while in line, don’t forget them.
  • Figure Out How You’re Getting ThereRideShare2Vote can offer you a free round-trip ride to and from your polling place!
Protect Your Vote

Voting is your right. Unfortunately, in recent years, there are increasing reports of this fundamental freedom being violated. In many states, new laws are creating barriers to voting. To protect you when you cast your ballot, visit Voto Latino’s resource Knowing Your Voting Rights before heading to the polls. You can also learn about your state’s voting laws, check your registration, and learn about what is on your ballot by visiting the Women Are Voting voting resources page and accessing the resources below.

When voting, be on the lookout, as you may experience or witness Voter Intimidation, Harassment, and Suppression. It might look like:

    • Turning voters away while they are in line
    • Aggressively questioning voters about citizenship, criminal record, or other qualifications to vote
    • Verbal harassment/use of slurs
    • Poll watchers threatening, intimidating, or photographing/videotaping voters
    • Threats of harm
    • Threatening voters that their information will be used to execute outstanding warrants or collect debts
    • Attempts to influence voters not to vote, or to vote a certain way

 

Know how to respond if this happens to you. First, remember it’s not your responsibility to have the perfect response. It’s their responsibility to not harass you. However, until harassment is no longer part of the human experience, we want to share our approach to how to respond if it happens to you. Here are our strategies:

    • Trust your instincts.
      • Listen to what your gut is telling you and note your surroundings.
      • Assess your safety.
    • Reclaim your space.
      • Decide if you want to respond in the moment and how. Some ideas:
      • Speak up and tell the person harassing you what you want them to do and why: for example, say “I know my rights and I’m not interested in further discussion, please give me some space.”
      • Get help. Find a bystander and ask them for help. You could ask an election worker for help. If you witness an election worker being harassed, you can ask the person standing right next to you to help.
      • Document the harassment: turn the lens off of you and onto the person(s) harassing you. Take a video or photo with your phone and/or write down your experience. Documentation can be very helpful if you choose to report what happened later.

 

You can report harassment to the election protection hotline:

    • 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) – English language hotline
    • 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) – Spanish language hotline
    • 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) – Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Tagalog hotline
    • 844-YALLA-US (844-925-5287) – Arabic language hotline
    • 301-818-VOTE (301-818-8683) — American Sign Language video call number

 

Protect Yourself

Practice resilience. There is strength in recognizing that harassment hurts. Don’t shove it down and pretend it didn’t happen. Instead, take care of yourself and your communities. Resilience starts with you. 

In the moment, remember: it’s not your responsibility to have the perfect response. It’s their responsibility not to harass others. Whatever choice you make — to respond or not — is the right choice, for you, in that moment.

After the fact, when you can get to a place where you feel safe enough to continue practicing resilience, here are some ideas:

    • Honoring your existing resilience. Self-encouragement.
    • Inhaling calming scents, such as essential oils.
    • Noticing and naming your emotions without judgment.
    • Upregulating activities such as dancing or running (anything that gets your heart rate up and blood pumping).
    • Downregulating activities: yoga, meditation, body scans, deep breaths (anything that slows your heart rate down and helps you relax).
    • Sleep.
    • If it feels good, sharing your experience with someone you trust or reporting it to the election protection hotline.

 

Protect Your Community

Language Translation Support. Fun fact: the United States does not have an official language! Your right to vote is not affected by the language(s) you speak. 

    • The election protection hotline is available in the following languages:
      • 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) – English language hotline
      • 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) – Spanish language hotline
      • 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) – Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Tagalog hotline
      • 844-YALLA-US (844-925-5287) – Arabic language hotline
      • To make a video call in American Sign Language (ASL), you can call 301-818-VOTE (301-818-8683)

 

Bystander Intervention. Use bystander intervention as a way of supporting others in your community. As a bystander in action, you can reduce the immediate effects of disrespect/harassment; show the person who experienced it that they aren’t alone; and show others who witness your actions that disrespect, intimidation, and harassment aren’t tolerated here.

Key things to remember when intervening:

    • Always prioritize your own safety. If you don’t feel safe intervening, one strategy is to ask someone else to help.
    • Bystander intervention does not always, or even often, mean directly confronting the person who is harassing. Our 5Ds methodology is designed to help you avoid confrontation and/or arrest. In fact, 80% of our methods are indirect and we encourage you to use them unless you feel both safe and confident enough to intervene directly. The 5Ds methodology focuses on supporting the person(s) who are harmed.

 

Now you are ready! Here are Right To Be’s 5Ds of Bystander Intervention:

    • Distract – Create a distraction to de-escalate the situation.
          • You can start a conversation with the person being harassed, taking attention away from the person harassing them. For example: “How long have you been waiting in line? Is the line moving at a good pace?”
          • You can even drop something or spill a drink to create a nonverbal diversion.
    • Delegate – Find someone else to help.
          • You can ask an election worker, bus driver, or the person next to you for help. For example: “That person is being verbally attacked. Would you feel comfortable going there and asking her if she needs our help?”
          • Don’t call the police without permission from the person being harmed – not everyone feels safer with police presence.
          • You can also call the election protection hotline for help:
            • 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) – English language hotline
            • 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) – Spanish language hotline
            • 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) – Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Tagalog hotline
            • 844-YALLA-US (844-925-5287) – Arabic language hotline
            • 301-818-VOTE (301-818-8683) — American Sign Language video call number
    • Document – Create documentation of harassment, and give it to the person who was harassed so that they can decide what to do with it. Never publish or share without their permission!
          • You can use your phone to take videos or photos, or write down what you see.
          • Note the date, time, and location.
          • Make sure someone else is already helping in another way before you start filming.
          • Check your state laws for filming at the polls. In some states there are no laws against it; in some it’s not legal to film in the room where you vote; in some it’s not legal to film within 75 or 100 feet of the polling site. 
    • Delay – Check in on the person who experienced the harassment afterward. You can ask them things like:
          • “Can I sit with you?”
          • “Can I walk you somewhere safer?”
          • “What do you need right now?”
    • Direct – Speak up about disrespectful behavior when it’s happening. But we recommend avoiding escalation, by simply setting a boundary with the person doing the harassing, and then immediately turning your attention to the person being harassed. You can:
          • Directly name the behavior. For example, “That’s voter intimidation. You need to stop.” Then focus on how you can help the person being harassed.
          • Name what you observe. For example, “They look uncomfortable. Why don’t you leave them alone?” Then focus on how you can help the person being harassed.
          • Ask a question, which is sometimes enough for them to self-correct. For example, “What crime is being committed? Why are you calling the police?”

When you use bystander intervention, you help others in your community feel more comfortable showing up, both to vote and to intervene when they witness intimidation or harassment. You are helping to create a culture of support and dignity for all to cast their votes, rather than fear-mongering, disinformation, or bullying.

Voting Is Your Right.

Voting is your power. Voting is your freedom. We hope that the tools and resources provided in this guide help you feel confident and ready to cast your ballot. When we vote together, we are unstoppable.

This resource is a joint effort of the Women Are Voting coalition, spearheaded by Supermajority.

OUR UPCOMING TRAININGS

Group of people listen to a colleague.

Upcoming training

Bystander Intervention in the Workplace Demo

December 1, 2022

1:00 pm - 1:35 pm EST

Right To Be

Upcoming training

Bystander Intervention: How to be an Ally When You Witness Online Abuse

December 6, 2022

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm EST

Group of people listen to a colleague.

Upcoming training

Bystander Intervention in the Workplace Demo

December 1, 2022

1:00 pm - 1:35 pm EST

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YOU ARE POWERFUL

Remember, everyone can do something. At this time in our history, it is even more important that we show up for one another as active bystanders. Research shows that even a knowing glance can significantly reduce trauma for the person who is targeted. One of the most important things we can do is to let the person who is targeted know, in some way, however big or small, that they are not alone.

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