A record number of Americans have already cast their ballots. With eight days to go until Election Day, the count of 58 million voters has already surpassed the total number of early ballots cast in 2016. NBC News reports the number of early voters could hit 90 to 100 million by next Tuesday.
“There have been some amazing stories of people going to great lengths to cast their early vote out of their heartfelt commitment to make their voice heard,” said Sandy Sorensen, director of the UCC’s Washington, D.C., office. “It will take time to count every vote, and we must call for each and every vote to be counted. United Church of Christ General Synods have faithfully witnessed to the importance of free and fair elections, and to the right to vote as an affirmation of human dignity and a fundamental civil right.”
With states around the country shattering early voting records, Sorensen said it’s unlikely that presidential and all other races will be decided on election night.
“With the unprecedented use of mail-in voting, it is to be expected that we may not know the results for some time,” Sorensen said. In 20 states, mail-in ballots cannot even be counted until Election Day is over. Those tens of millions of ballots could take weeks to count.
“Now is the time for the faith community to be present in these uncertain, anxious times,” Sorensen said. “It will be important for congregations and faith communities to offer space for prayer and nonviolent engagement, whether virtual or by observing COVID-19 safety protocols. It is also important to lift up a message of connection, community and hope for moving forward in the future whatever the obstacles.”
Supporting that message, the Rev. Traci Blackmon, associate general minister, has invited civil rights leader Ruby Sales to speak about activism and voter suppression issues in a webinar on Thursday, Oct. 29. Sales, a historian and member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), will join Blackmon in conversation to “Bring Spirit to the Polls.” Register for the 3:30 p.m. EDT event here.
The UCC’s Our Faith, Our Vote Campaign has compiled seven action steps to use in the next seven days, with resources that can be used to make sure that every vote counts.
- Vote – If you haven’t already, make a voting plan. Vote early if you can do so safely. Make sure you share that you voted with family, friends and others in your community.
- Prepare– Share election protection resources in your community (866-OUR-VOTE) and know your rights at the polls. Check out these tools in advance.
- Train – Watch this webinar with Blackmon and the Rev. Billy M. Honor, director of faith organizing for the New Georgia Project. Recorded Oct. 25, they talk through preparations to act as precinct chaplains, to show up as a faithful witness on Election Day. Participate in de-escalation trainings like this one at 2 p.m. today from the Count Every Vote Faith Network. Check the Our Faith Our Vote website for additional trainings.
- Plan– Use these simple, step-by-step guidance and worksheets, created for leaders seeking to take decisive steps to create resilience to upheaval in their communities. The tools include steps on how to build or expand a community-wide network, how to monitor increasing tensions and respond in a crisis, and how to take proactive action that undermines the dynamics of conflict.
- Advocate– Be vocal on social media with the Our Faith Our Vote toolkit, write to your local paper, contact your elections board and secretary of state to find out what steps they are taking to protect the electoral process.
- Be Patient– Encourage patience to allow every vote to be counted. Consume information from accurate and reputable sources. The vote count will take time. This means the system is working. Election wins are declared by official, nonpartisan and trusted sources like the state election board – not the candidates themselves.
- Pray– People of faith believe in the power of prayer.
“Voting is a sacred act that shapes our public life together. Before you vote, pray; but also consider praying in these days before the election for our democracy to hold and peace to prevail,” Sorensen said. “Let us be informed, ready, and spiritually grounded for any scenario on Election Day so that we can instill calm in our communities.”
The UCC national setting is inviting the wider church and full communion partners to join a service of hope and prayer on Monday evening, Nov. 2. The three executive officers are participating, with General Minister and President John Dorhauer preaching. Every living general minister and president of the UCC, along with other former officers, have been asked to offer prayers for the issues of concern in this election season. Register here for the Monday, Nov. 2, service at 7 p.m. EST.
“As the faith community, we’ve a critical role to play in not stoking the fires of partisanship, but rather bearing witness to injustice. While the outcome of the election is uncertain and we should prepare for a number of complex eventualities, what remains undisputed is that we are called to love our neighbor,” said Katie Adams, the UCC’s domestic policy advocate. “Rather than sides or parties, we walk with our LBGTQ friends, our immigrant neighbors, our unhoused and hungry siblings in an unjust world. Holding onto the truth of that radical love in the coming days will help us stand firm.”
Bookmark the Our Faith, Our Vote site for new resources and information.