The 2020 federal elections hold the promise of a new normal for Americans caught in the vicious trifecta of an economic downturn, a debilitating public health pandemic, and an employment meltdown that has taken hold of not only our personal lives but, as musicians, has turned our industry completely on its head without the immediate promise of near-term relief.
As has been clearly delineated over the past six months, federal and local elected government officials hold the key to vital resources that are necessary to help the average American family and worker land on their feet. But political gridlock in Washington now requires every citizen to weigh in and compel our elected officials to work in tandem on behalf of their constituents and not their political party. The Constitution of the United States provides a clear electoral path for Americans to legally and effectively traverse the system.
Register, Vote In-Person or By Mail
Your vote is your voice! It is your way to exercise your right as an American citizen to “right the ship” and steer it into safe harbor. However, the system requires us to engage the process legally, and here are a few matters that you must engage in to ensure that your voice is heard.
Each state and county manages its own electoral process, and you must first check to see if you are on the voter registration rolls. As this is a federal election year, voters will not only elect state and local officials, you will have the opportunity on November 3, depending on your location, to vote for governors in 11 states and two territories, for members of the US House of Representatives in 435 districts, US Senate seats in 35 states, and for the President and Vice President of the United States.
The AFM recommends that you consult Vote.org to check/confirm your voter registration, register to vote, access vote by mail via absentee ballot, identify your specific polling place by name or address, sign up to be a poll worker, and if necessary, fill out your 2020 census form.
Using Trusted Sources
Much has been said about the security of your registration documents and your ballots, in particular the reliability of the United States Postal Service (USPS). The USPS has launched a special website at www.usps.com (https://tinyurl.com/y3x6jvqr) to answer questions about how it handles election mail. The site provides express information about mail timing, identification of your state election websites, handling of military and non-military election mailing, postage amounts, and the proper use of USPS mail/ballot collection boxes.
Many state election offices also have ballot drop boxes located outside of county election offices that are monitored regularly by election officials. You should feel safe using these facilities if you want to hand-deliver your documents.
What is at Stake?
Several issues important to musicians mostly covered in the House-passed HEROES Act, held up in the Senate, remain unresolved and require consensus among members of Congress: A resolution for multiemployer pension programs, mixed income unemployment insurance issues, restoration of above-the-line tax deductions, increased immigration fees on O and P visas, and safe reopening of cultural worksites with safety and health protections for musicians and other creative professionals. All of these will require cooperation and compromise between the House and Senate chambers.
These are the reasons that your vote should focus on electing representatives that will avoid gridlock, that will compromise and work toward resolution of these important issues. Let’s all use our voices to help get our industry back on track.