On Tuesday, Dec. 12, Alabama will be voting in a special election. The state is voting to fill a Senate seat left open by Jeff Sessions after he took the role of U.S. Attorney General earlier this year. Whoever wins the election — between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore — on Tuesday gets to stay in Congress till 2021, so that's years' worth of decisions that will impact the entire country. Do I sound like I'm exaggerating? Because I'm not. If the fate of the country over the next three years concerns you, there's an easy way for you to get involved in the Alabama election — wherever you are.
"There’s so much at stake right now. You can see it with the GOP policies that are being rammed down everyone’s throats from the tax bill, onwards. Never before have we been in this position of really extreme, enormously damaging bills and policies threatening the majority of the country," Vanessa Wruble, co-founder and Executive Director of March On, tells me in an interview for Elite Daily. "It’s never been more important than now to get out, especially in Alabama, where it’s such an unusually close race."
March On, an organization for political action that grew out of the Women's March, is leading a coalition of groups for the special election. If you sign up, or "enlist," with March On, you can get notifications about helping out their efforts. At this point, so close to Dec. 12, the efforts are focused on getting out the vote — which is a nonpartisan effort from March On.
The majority of work now is phone-banking, which is when you literally call up voters and talk to them about why they should go and vote on Tuesday, Dec. 12. You can do that from anywhere! Getting people to the polls is extremely important in every election. It's only with full voter turnout that we get fully representative votes in elections.
Outside of March On, there are other ways to get involved in the Alabama election.
Again, at this point, it's pretty much just phone banking to get out the vote (and if you happen to be in Alabama, there's some in-person volunteering you can try to do, too).
Various organizations run phone banking events, generally to support one candidate or another, from many parts of the country. Do some quick Googles to find one near you or available online.
You can also get involved through the individual campaigns. You can sign up to volunteer with the Doug Jones (Democrat) campaign here, and you can sign up to volunteer with the Roy Moore (Republican) campaign here.
Meanwhile, the Alabama election has turned into a pretty controversial one.
National headlines have been flooded over the past month since allegations were reported that Republican Moore pursued teenage girls while he was in his 30s, mostly during the 1980s. (Moore has denied allegations of wrongdoing.) The Republican party at large is being scrutinized for how they are handling these allegations. While initially they turned away from Moore and called for him to drop out of the race, they have since turned back to support him. President Donald Trump, who himself has been accused of a variety of sexual misconduct by multiple women — the White House's official stance is that the women who made allegations against Trump are lying — has been leading the charge in support for Moore despite the allegations.
On the other side of the aisle is the Democrat, Doug Jones.
Jones is kind of the opposite of Moore (barring that they're both older, straight, cis white men) ideologically and historically. Jones was a U.S. Attorney in Alabama who rose to prominence in the early 2000 as the lead prosecutor in a case against the Ku Klux Klan for the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, which killed four girls. Jones supports women's rights to health care, believes in climate change, and wants to raise the minimum wage. Abortion is an especially controversial topic in Alabama, and Jones has said he "supports a woman's freedom to choose what happens to her own body," but agrees with laws banning later-term procedures except in the case of medical necessity.
The race has been very close so far.
Despite Moore's scandalous headlines, Alabama is a historically red state. As of the latest poll from Raycom News Network/Strategy Research released on Dec. 6, Moore is up by seven points. But that could be changed based on who shows up to vote. Given Moore's background, many analysts believe that if enough young people, women, and minority voters go to the polls on Tuesday, Dec. 12, Jones has a chance of pulling out a win.
"The race in Alabama is so extraordinarily close, and you can imagine that women have a particular feeling about Roy Moore given the allegations," Wruble says. "I think that you can imagine that the minority vote has really strong feeling about Roy Moore given his history of pretty blatant racism."
Should Jones win, it would add to a message of progressive pushback that began with the local elections in November. On Nov. 7, a series of progressive candidates in Virginia, New Jersey, and elsewhere won elections, in what many believed was a demonstration of an anti-Trump trend.
"If we can get people out, we just might be able to get it over the edge," Wruble says. So are you ready to hit those phones and start calling potential voters?