Day 21: Make a plan to vote
Today’s action: Preparing to make your vote count
Today’s action is to make a plan to vote in all relevant elections this year. Take these steps, today, to make it happen (these are US-specific):
Make sure you’re registered to vote and know your polling place. If you’re not sure, or if you need to register, visit I Will Vote.
Make a plan to vote in the general election this year, scheduled for Tuesday, November 8, 2022. If you’re going to vote in person, put it on your calendar now. If you want more info on how to participate in elections (such as who can vote, where to vote, what to bring, etc., visit HOWTO.VOTE).
Check whether there are other elections you can vote in this year; if so, make your plan to vote in those, too! Beyond the general election, there may also be primaries, special elections, or local elections that you can vote in. Take a few minutes to research this (see our tips below); if you find relevant elections, make a plan to vote in those too, and pencil them in your calendar now!
That’s it! If you want a little extra, consider taking the Environmental Voter Project Pledge: pledging to be a consistent voter, and to prioritize environmental issues. (And if you want even more extra info and actions--like encouraging others to vote--check out the “looking for more” section.)
To find relevant primary and special elections, Vote 411 offers a user-friendly option. Put in your address to find your upcoming elections, as well as registration deadlines.
Alternatively, if you take the Environmental Voter Project Pledge, they’ll aim to notify you of every election you’re eligible for (including specials, locals, and primaries).
If you want to do your own research to find relevant local elections, this guide explains how to start your search.
Why this action? Voting isn’t something we get to do every day, but when we do get the opportunity, voting is one of the most important climate actions we can take. (That's assuming you’re voting for candidates who will push for good climate policy! If you’re not, your vote could be the equivalent of tripling your carbon footprint … We’re keeping 31DoCA non-partisan, so won’t say more, but we had to share what the research shows!)
As we’ve discussed, we need our governments to enact strong climate legislation and to push strong climate policies. To increase our chances of that happening, we need climate-concerned citizens to vote in all relevant elections.
Unfortunately, research shows that voters who identify the environment as their biggest priority are much less likely to vote than other registered voters. And it’s estimated that over 8 million environmentalists did not vote in the 2020 presidential election and over 12 million skipped the 2018 midterm. Yikes! Those are scary stats, but they also highlight a major opportunity: getting more folks to vote for the climate. So make your plan to vote now!
Looking for more? Read on for more info and further actions, including: how to assess candidates’ environmental track records, opportunities to help turn non-voting environmentalists into consistent voters, and a No Fossil Fuel Money pledge that you can ask candidates to take.
Learn and reflect:
Research in several countries, including Canada and the UK and Germany, asserts that voting for climate-friendly parties or candidates is one of the most high-impact climate actions that an individual can take. This also extends to voting in local elections.
If you made a plan to vote, but you’re not sure who the best climate candidate is, these resources can help:
League of Conservation Voters Action Fund’s endorsements
League of Conservation Voters’ scorecard of current national reps
Sierra Club endorsements for national elections (some local chapters also offer local endorsements)
Climate Hawks endorsements
Research suggests that, if you’re interested in donating money to a climate cause, spending that money on supporting climate-friendly candidates in close races may be more effective than traditional offset programs. This article has more specific suggestions, including why to support under-the-radar candidates and ballot initiatives. Oh, and if you’re going to donate to candidates, how about telling your friends (donations can be socially contagious)?
Check to see if candidates (as well as your current representatives) have signed the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.” If you interact with any federal, state, or local candidates in the run up to this year’s elections, thank them if they’ve signed the Pledge, and ask them to sign it if they haven’t. Our politicians should be working for the people, NOT for the fossil fuel industry. If you want to work more proactively on getting a candidate to sign the pledge, this toolkit has guidance for you!
Volunteer with the Environmental Voter Project, which works to transform environmentalists into consistent voters. All their actions are backed by research; opportunities include calling voters, sending postcards, and canvassing.
Check out other ideas from Green that Life on how to “vote for the planet.”