Why Every One of Us Needs a Voting Plan
Well-meaning friends and colleagues tell us voting is “easy.” For them, perhaps it is. For us, lots of executive dysfunctions stand between us and a completed ballot. Thankfully, none of these challenges is big or daunting enough to keep us from the polls. Here’s a plan for getting it done by November 3.
You’ve heard the message repeated for months: Make sure you’re registered to vote. You have to vote — by mail or in person. It’s your right, and obligation.
But for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD), it’s not that simple. Our best-laid plans go sideways. We forget the date. We forget the time. We forget our wallet; we get busy; we just plain don’t feel qualified to make a choice because there’s always more research, more issues, more late-breaking news.
But we’re Americans. And an American’s most precious right is the right to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. “It shall not perish from this Earth,” said Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address. So we have to get off our couches. (Did you know that only 58% of eligible voters went to the polls in 2016, according to PBS?) We have to keep the great engine of democracy moving — and that means voting.
And I say this knowing that’s not easy. If neurotypical people have trouble making it to the polls, you know it’s downright daunting for people with ADHD to cast a ballot. But you also know that one of our best coping mechanisms is to plan ahead. The more detailed our plans, the easier it is to accomplish our goals. And our major, primary goal before November 3rd should be to vote. We need to do it for democracy. We need to do it for our country. And we need to do it for ourselves.
So we need to make a voting plan. We’ll break it down into the traditional who, when, where, and how.
First, figure out who you’re going to vote for. Educate yourself. Set aside a few minutes — use a timer if you need to — and go to Ballotopedia to see a sample ballot for your area (this won’t tell you who’s running in local races like school board, but it will give you the highlights of major races, and, for example, who might be running for Agriculture Secretary). Then use your ADHD superpower to hyperfocus. Look up the candidates. Make sure you’re not flying blind into the voting booth. You’ll be more likely to vote if you feel confident in your choices.
Then, decide when you’re going to vote. Many states offer early voting. See if and when early voting begins in your state, and also how to request an absentee ballot, here on Vote.org. Independent studies and government reviews prove that voter fraud is very rare in all forms, including mail-in voting, according to The New York Times. Mail-in ballots — unsolicited or solicited — and absentee ballots, which are essentially the same exact thing, are both secure and safe ways to cast your vote, especially during a pandemic.
Maybe you’d rather just vote on Election Day. Cool, but you need to decide now: Will you vote before work, or will you vote afterward? Ballotopedia will supply you will polling times as well as a ballot. Will you vote at lunchtime? Remember that your employer cannot penalize you for time you spend waiting in line to vote. And if you’re in line before polls are set to close, you have the right to vote — even after the poll-closing time.
Figure out where you’re going to vote. Do you know where your polling place is? If you’ve just moved, or you’ve never voted before, double check by entering your address on HeadCount.org. If you decide to vote early, check Vote.org to see where you should do so. We recommend bringing a water bottle, a charged phone, and a fidget if you expect you’ll be waiting for a long time.
Finally, decide how you’re going to get to your polling place. Will you stop on your way to work? Can you walk from your house? Do you need a ride? If so, researching getting a discounted ride from Uber or from Lyft. You can also call a friend or ask for help from a local organization. But make sure you have plans in place to get yourself to the polls; many people cited transportation issues as a major reason they didn’t vote in the last election.
Put all of this together and you’ve got an ADHD voting plan that can get you to the polls to exercise your rights. The rights Americans fought for. The rights enshrined in our Constitution. The rights women and people of color marched for and suffered for and, in many cases, died for. Your suffrage is worth the effort. So make a plan. Get out of your living room and get out the vote.