This presidential election season has been about as turbulent as the 2016 one. Supposed “fake news” was a nascent idea then but has become a full-on ideology and way of political discourse. Many fear that the election outcome could possibly result in street protests and violence. Election results may be contested and the validity of mail-in ballots has been speculated about, muddying in the waters. It is good to prepare and minimize any potential risks to you and your family.
Keep track of what is happening on the news
If there is a time not to be on a media diet, it is election night. Depending on your source, news cans have a bias, but you should follow developments. Some obscure outlets could even attempt to justify the use of violence, so it is important to be aware of the conversations that are out there. The hope is that social media does not stir up emotions further, which will be running high. Your focus should be data in your area, and not getting sucked into political commentary.
Stay safe in your home, but also vote (early)
It is your duty as a citizen to vote, but be aware of forces seeking to intimidate certain populations from voting. If you witness this, call local law enforcement immediately. Law enforcement is for election night, as this article reveals about Texas, “that’s the key: using the least amount of force possible and still allowing people to exercise their First Amendment right.” Law enforcement across the country wants to enable citizens to fulfill their civic duty.
In the as yet unlikely case of violence stay away from windows when at home. While summer protests remained in urban areas, election night protests may be more widespread, if they happen. Have a safe and secure area in your house and keep basic foodstuffs and water on hand (no need to hoard) just in case.
Keep track of your loved one’s whereabouts
Make sure you can track friends and family on their smartphones. Check in every few hours and monitor their social media. A group chat on text or WhatsApp can keep people in touch and updated in real time. Gen Z and millennials may protest in the streets (as is their right) but with the prospect of violence it may not be a good idea. Our democracy and right to protest is important, but safety is also paramount.
Stay off the streets
This goes without saying. There is a line between executing your right to vote and keeping safe. If you live in a swing state and have concerns, vote early and be vigilant. As an example, in Chicago the police are preparing: “Chicago police and other city departments said Thursday they have been devising plans over the past few months to “respond to any situation” on the city’s streets for the upcoming presidential election, including civil unrest.” If there is violence, it could turn into days-long protests, as during the summer, so be prepared for that prospect.
People may be angry for various factors – handling of the pandemic, the economy, the current state of the country – and all have the potential to be explosive on election night or following days. This is a dark time for our country, but it is wise to deal with reality as is, not what we want it to be.
For additional resources and guidance, the Interfor team is here to help.