When Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, it signaled that America was serious about protecting our democracy. It outlawed the discriminatory practices rampant in many states preventing African Americans from casting their ballots, and is among the most important pieces of legislation passed in our lifetimes.

Today, the right to vote is being suppressed and eroded in many states across the U.S. Amidst a cloud of hateful bigotry and lies about stolen elections, we are being led right to the edge of rebellion against democracy itself.

Politicians threatened by the shift toward a more Democratic electorate are reverting to the types of tools that limit access to political power – enacting restrictive voter ID laws, purging voter rolls, and blocking voting-by-mail during a global pandemic.

Watching our work erode in the face of new voter suppression laws should be beyond painful for our cohort. We fought for the protection of voting rights, and we continue to vote more than any other age group — people over 60 were about 50% more likely to cast a ballot in 2020 than those ages 18-29.

We can and should channel that resolve. Sign-up with Third Act and you will join fellow older, experienced Americans as part of our Democracy Force. As a first line of defense of democracy, we need to increase participation in elections and strengthen voting rights, so that all people can play an equal role in making the decisions we must make as a nation.

It’s disappointing—beyond disappointing, frustrating and terrifying, actually— that Congressional action to protect voting rights has not passed. Yet. So, we need to work at state and local levels, as well as at the federal level. And we need to amplify the voices and stories of the majority of Americans who want free and fair elections. There are still so many things we can and will do together to educate voters, register voters and increase turnout, and protect the integrity of our elections.

What you can do to help

1. Write Postcards to Voters

Since late March 2022, we have partnered with Activate America to write postcards to voters—first in Arizona and Pennsylvania to request their vote-by-mail ballot in time for Midterm Primary Elections, then in Wisconsin, onto Georgia and other states later. Visit Third Act’s Postcards to Voters page  to sign-up to get voter addresses and postcard scripts, download and print a Third Act VOTE postcard, and more information about why postcards are an important and effective tactic for increasing voter turnout.

2. Register High School Senior to Vote

In most states, kids are eligible to register as long as they’ll turn 18 by the next election. But painfully few of them are getting registered—in many crucial states less than 20% of recent high school graduates are registered. 

Young adults turn out to vote at nearly the same rate as experienced Americans, yet most are never asked to vote.

Becoming a voter is one important role. As the school year begins, we can think back to our own senior year in high school and all the ways in which it represented a transition to another stage in life.

Together with our partner The Civics Center—we’re organizing a senior-to-senior voter registration drive with several opportunities to inspire, register, and empower young voters. September 19-23 is High School Voter Registration Week.

3. Tell us your story

We’re worried that too many Americans have started taking voting for granted, and we want to build an archive of stories to raise the visibility of voting and help remind everyone of just how much it means.

Older Americans are dependable voters and we turn out in large numbers. Let’s share our stories to inspire and motivate others to join us — our children, grandchildren, and grand-friends. Please use this form to send us a story of the first time you voted, or of some time you voted in your life that really mattered to you, or why you are a dependable voter.

We will use your stories in social media, blogs, and other channels to highlight personal narratives that connect our individual actions with the promise of a people-powered democracy.

4. Write a letter to the editor

“Old technology” like letters to the editor are actually one of the most read parts of the newspaper, and are also followed closely by your elected officials. So, please share your perspectives on why protecting our democracy is personally important to you. You can write about local, state, or federal efforts going on to restrict voting access, gerrymander districts, limit or get rid of vote-by-mail, or other issues. Write about your own experiences with voting. Lift up positive stories where non-partisan re-districting is working or states are enhancing voting access. Perhaps write these letters together— virtually or in-person safely— with your children or grandchildren, fellow seniors, neighbors, or others. The more letters on a topic are submitted the more likely it is the newspaper will publish one or two.

To help you get going, watch a recording of Bill McKibben’s “letter to the editor writing workshop.” There are sample letters to the editor in the slide deck used for that workshop. If your letter to the editor gets published, please share it on social media and email the link (or a photo of the actual printed paper) to us at takingaction@thirdact.org.

Follow the links on our page for details about what you can do.

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