We're doing Russia's work for them | Three Things Thursday

Unite America

I’m not sleeping well these days. 

It might be coronavirus (when will we have a vaccine?); it might be allergies (Colorado has been hazy from wildfires, though nowhere near as bad as Oregon and California). But I think what’s most likely keeping me up at night is the election -- we’re not prepared. Still. 

And I’m not alone

There are tons of ways the election could go wrong this year — and we’ve only got one chance to get it right. It’s why we need to vote early and in person if we can. If you’re voting by mail, request your ballot now, and return it as soon as possible. And most importantly — tell your friends who aren’t paying attention yet. 

Here are three things to think about this week. 

  1. It’s about putting voters first

We’ve been vocal advocates for vote at home at Unite America — with good reason! Vote at home is one of the most secure ways to cast a ballot. It allows for voters to do well-informed research when casting their vote. And when done properly, it increases turnout and reduces administrative costs. 

But, it’s not the only way to make it more convenient for voters to participate; early voting, especially this year, is a critical method to enfranchise more voters. This week, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson writes about why she’s encouraging Indiana voters to vote early. 

We agree with Secretary Lawson — early voting is a good method of voting, and it will help to keep Indiana voters safe. But it’s only one option of the panacea. Voting should not be difficult or unattainable for those who are legally allowed to participate; it’s our republic, and we should have a say in how it operates. Expanding vote by mail (which they haven’t done in Indiana) is a critical step to ensuring that all voters are heard in November.

  1. The system wasn’t built for women

I’ve been thinking about this image a lot: Buffy Wicks, a lawmaker in California, speaking on the floor of the California state assembly, wearing a mask, clutching a newborn baby. Just two weeks earlier, Wicks’ request for a proxy vote was denied. In the middle of a pandemic with a one month old baby, she was told that her pregnancy did not constitute a legitimate excuse. So while some of her senate colleagues were allowed a proxy, Wicks was left to do the only thing she could do: she and her daughter went down to Sacramento and they ensured Wicks’ constituents were represented. 

Wick’s determination and commitment is certainly laudable; ask any new parent, and they’ll certainly tell you the same. But Wicks’ effort belies a much larger problem that aggravates our system; nationally, women are egregiously underrepresented in politics. Women are 51% of our country’s population. Yet they only represent 29% of state legislators. 

It’s a self-reinforcing cycle. Without women in positions of power, reasonable requests like Wicks’ will continue to be denied. The more they’re denied, the less women like Wicks will want to run. The less women run, the less women lead. The less women lead, the fewer there are in positions of power to recognize that having a newborn baby is a legitimate excuse to vote by proxy, and the worse representation becomes for over half the population. In the 19th this week, Barbara Rodriguez breaks down why electing more female leaders is a must. (If you’re looking for a reform group that works to support women leaders, check out our partners RepresentWomen)

  1. Finally, don’t do the work of foreign governments for them

It was announced this week in a bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security that Russia is actively working to undermine American’s trust in mail-in ballots. I posted about it on Facebook, and it became immediately clear that their efforts were working. It got nasty real quick -- from both sides -- as comments came in: “What Russia is doing can’t be any worse than what the DEMONCRATS are already working to do!” “Makes sense -- they want to reelect their puppet.” 

Which is why this piece from Susan Gordon in the Washington Post was so intriguing to me. Gordon, a veteran intelligence officer is clear: we have to stop helping foreign actors from dividing us. “When we turn on ourselves rather than seek accountability, when we tear down our own institutions rather than insist on better performance, and when we turn real social issues into divisive rhetoric rather than work for change,” she writes, “we are doing exactly what our rivals hope.”

It doesn’t matter who you support: there is a foreign government who does not value our freedom as Americans, and they want your candidate to win. And in order to ensure that they’re better off, they are willing to manipulate Americans and our elections to turn us against one another.  China, Russia, Iran: they all are working to interfere with our elections to lessen our power globally and advance their own. When we’re vitriolic towards one another, we’re doing their work for them. 

Stay united, stay focused, and remember: Country Over Party.

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