As I have traveled around the country over the past nine years speaking to American Rivers supporters, I’m often asked what is the most important thing a person can do for rivers? My answer is always the same: vote.
Voting is our most precious right and important responsibility as citizens. Whether we are concerned about the impact of stormwater runoff on our favorite local stream, securing permanent federal protection of a Wild and Scenic River in our state, or addressing the threats posed by global climate change to our nation’s rivers, voting is the way to effect change.
It seems like every election is described as “the most important election in our lifetime.” In 2020, though, I think hyperbole matches reality. In a year in which we are experiencing the worst global pandemic in a century, the greatest economic decline in nearly a century, and civil unrest spurred by four centuries of racial injustice, the stakes in this year’s election couldn’t be higher.
So, if you want to make a real difference for rivers and clean water, here are three simple steps to take:
- Make sure you are registered to vote in your state. Go to www.vote.org to check your voter registration and, if you’re not registered, find the link to your state’s board of elections to register online.
- Make a plan to ensure you vote on or before November 3. With health concerns associated with the pandemic, many people are opting to vote by absentee ballot or in person at early voting centers. You can register to vote, request an absentee ballot, and locate your polling place using the links at www.vote.org. No matter how you decide to vote, just be sure to vote.
- Learn about the candidates and their positions on rivers, clean water, and any other issues you care about by reading newspapers and online media, following the news, and looking at campaign websites. Then make an informed decision and vote for candidates who share your values on protecting and restoring healthy rivers, conserving clean water, and other issues you care about.
Remember, the only vote that doesn’t count is the one that isn’t cast. Be sure to cast your vote on or before November 3.