NPQ wants to thank all the members of its community who helped get out the vote over the past six months. The country saw record turnout for your efforts, and the fruits of your labor will be felt for many years to come.
According to the US Elections Project, more than 160 million voted, comprising 66.9 percent of all eligible voters—the largest turnout in modern American history. Yet there were few of the long lines that generally characterize higher turnouts, because so many worked so hard to ensure the right to vote was, for the most part, not only protected, but facilitated. It will be up to us to capitalize on those advances in the future.
It is worth remembering that this turnout occurred during a pandemic that is still ravaging this country, with a record 107,000 Americans reportedly contracting the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours alone. Safeguarding the election itself amid the pandemic was a challenge. Fortunately, as Juliette Kang Stableski and Katie Kirchner of the Roosevelt Institute wrote in NPQ in June, a host of youth and civic organizations mobilized to meet that challenge.
Last month in NPQ, Sonia Melendez Reyes from Hispanics in Philanthropy highlighted the work of one of the countless organizations who worked to bring about this year’s election turnout, Mi Familia Vota (My Family Votes).
According to its director, Héctor Sanchez-Barba, “The pandemic has been a game-changer in the way in which frontline organizations conduct civic engagement outreach, times of challenges represent opportunities too and we are embracing all the new technologies to make our democracy more accessible.”
This year’s record turnout may seem inevitable in hindsight. It was definitely not; in fact, it was the product of countless hours spent by innumerable volunteers. It was a moment when civil society stood up—and for that, we should be most appreciative and grateful, regardless of the final outcome of this year’s elections. Even now, of course, the mobilization continues to ensure those votes are counted.
Still, it is wise to remember that voting is only one element of the civic engagement we need to achieve the racially and economically just, sustainably minded, and prosperous society we all long for and are so willing to work for. So, again, we thank you, and we’ll see you, and those you helped to engage in the voting part of our common responsibilities to one another, tomorrow, wherever you are making it all happen.