By Sara Sands
After four long years, we’re finally at the doorstep of Election Day 2020. It feels like we’ve been in this election cycle for decades. At least, I feel like I’ve aged about 10 years since the primaries started. Remember that time a year ago? Remember when we used to go outside without a mask, shake hands, touch the subway poll, sit at a bar and drink for just the normal reasons like the slow onset of a new facist but pandemic-free state? What wild times!
For those of you still hoping for an era of more progressive politics, there’s a critical step you can take this election: Vote for Biden-Harris and all other eligible Democratic down-ballot nominees on the Working Families Party (WFP) ballot line.
The Working Families Party is a progressive third-party that advocates for higher wages, criminal justice reform, and getting money out of politics. In addition to pushing for legislation aligned to priorities, they recruit, train, and run progressive candidates. In many states, such as New York and New Jersey, they often endorse the Democratic Party candidates. This means that you can cast a vote for Biden/Harris and it counts the same as though you cast it on the Democratic line. The benefit of this is that the WFP can serve as a third party and essentially be a bulwark in the Democratic party, holding the party accountable to change and pushing policies left. What a dream, right?
If you’re in New York State, voting for candidates on the WFP column is critical this year. After WFP was planning on endorsing Cynthia Nixon for governor during Governor Andrew Cuomo’s re-election bid, Cuomo developed a grudge. Once re-elected, he started a taskforce to investigate third parties and changed the laws to make it harder for third parties to get ballot access, a critical toehold for third parties seeking legitimacy. WFP needs to get at least 130,000 votes, or 2% of the total votes to stay on the ballot in future elections. Had this been the case in 2016 or 2018, the party would have failed to meet the threshold.
If you are like me - a Democrat that is enthusiastically voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris because you cannot bear the thought of another soul-crushing four years of a Trump presidency, but still dreaming of a way to push the Democratic party to adopt more progressive policies going forward, it is critical that you vote for candidates on the WFP ballot line. Tell everyone you know in New York State to do the same.
Sara Sands and friends.
Finally, it’s never too late to make your voting plan. For all you procrastinators, here are some pro tips:
GIve yourself plenty of time. I went to vote on the first day of early voting in New York City. My friends and I waited about two and half hours to cast our ballots. Check the closing time for polling sites in your state and make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get in line before the closing time and wait. Remember: As long as long as you are in line at the time the polls close, they have to let you vote. Do not leave!
Bring a friend. Vote together. It will help the time fly and promote democracy.
Bring your voter registration card, if you have one. In New York, registered voters were sent a card and a fast pass for your keyring. Bring them with you to expedite the process.
Bring what you need to be comfortable: water, coffee, snacks, a chair, masks, hand sanitizer, a portable phone charger. Bring extras for those waiting with you! The lines are long. Support each other.
Celebrate after! My Washington Heights Lady Crew and I recommend bagels and mimosas because voting is #BasicForDemocracy, but you live your life and celebrate your way. We’ve worked hard for this right!