Linda Ignarro has been with 72andSunny for over seven years and works as an executive assistant for the 72andSunny Los Angeles leadership team. She is an integral part of the employee-led educational seminars at 72andSunny and has been a trusted resource since she started. This year alone she has hosted five virtual voting sessions (with about 80% of the LA staff in attendance). Ahead of this year's US election she is sharing her helpful tips with advertising professionals in the hope that they feel confident and proud when making their votes. She's consulted with quite a few ad executives over the years who value her tips year after year.
Check out insight from Linda below.
***Please vote in-person if you can. If you have a mail-in ballot but haven’t returned it yet, only drop it off at either a designated ballot drop box (not a regular mailbox), or in-person at a vote center or polling location before polls close on Election Day!
How the Voting Seminars Came About
Before the 2018 midterm elections, I was talking with some friends at work about the candidates. Many had never voted in a midterm, and were unfamiliar with how certain aspects of government worked. I offered to teach a seminar over lunch, and almost the whole agency showed up!
I’m super into politics and thought surely this would be boring for people to listen to, but after the seminar, at least a dozen co-workers came by my desk to talk about a different thing that each had learned from the talk. Many didn’t know that sheriffs, district attorneys, and judges are elected by you – all the people who could arrest, prosecute and sentence you! Those who thought their vote didn’t matter were quickly disabused of that when they learned of elections being decided by one vote (or a high-card draw - yes, seriously) all across the country.
Before the presidential primary this year, I taught another seminar (complete with a live demonstration of how a caucus works). I heard from more co-workers who had never voted in a primary before, and were now excited to participate for the first time. These first two led to The Big One: a week’s worth of seminars on the November 2020 election.
I went over:
- Terminology that would be heard on the news
- Topics likely to come up in the debate **and was so proud when the first debate moderator asked about court expansion after we went over it
- The differences between local, state and national offices
- Line-by-line of the ballot explaining the initiatives.
These discussions helped me to realize that people want to participate, they just usually feel overwhelmed and out of the loop (which, I feel, is often intentional on the part of our elected officials). Instead of letting people throw up their hands in frustration and walk away, I decided to talk through things using normal, everyday language, and real-world examples.
The reactions have been amazing - lightbulbs turning on as my friends and co-workers feel equipped to finally own their votes.
As the late, great John Lewis said, “The vote is the most powerful non-violent tool we have.” So I want to make sure everyone is ready to vote!
✓ Who can vote?
You are at least 18 years old, you are a U.S. Citizen, and in California, if you have a felony conviction, you can vote if you’re still on probation, but you do have to be done with parole.
- On the Los Angeles ballot this year, we’re actually voting on a proposition (Proposition 17) that would change this, and allow people with a felony conviction to vote, even if they’re still on parole!
- HERE : Go to Vote.org to check the requirements for your state.
✓ When do we vote?
We vote every TWO years, not every FOUR years. While the President is up for election every four years, every TWO years all of our 435 Congressional representatives are up for election. So make sure you vote in those midterm elections! But for this one: Tuesday November 3rd.
✓ Did you know?
We vote directly on things like rent control, marijuana legalization, and alcohol ordinances. And we elect people who can pardon people, set up rules for the internet, and make laws regarding song royalties. Voting, and who we elect affects almost everything in our lives!
There are some equivalents in National and State governments that I want to make sure we know.
On the national level we have a president and vice president, and on the state level we have a governor and lieutenant governor.
On the national level we have 100 U.S. Senators (2 per state), and on the state level we have State Senators (here in California we have 40 of those).
On the national level we have U.S. Representatives (453 total), and on the state level we have a state legislature or assembly.
✓ Who we vote on
We elect our sheriffs, district attorneys, and judges. So all the people who could arrest you, prosecute you, and sentence you are all people you could have chosen! So I want you to research your candidates to really get to know who could be in those positions.
✓ Who is up for election this year?
Who is up for election this year? All 435 congressional representatives, 35 out of 100 Senators, and of course, the President of the United States. Depending on the district you live in, you may also see school board seats, judges, and a range of propositions and measures.
✓ What are they talking about?
These are a few terms that you should know heading into the election:
Down-ballot: This refers to everything under the president. So if you hear people talking about down-ballot races, they’re referring to senators, house representatives, state legislature, literally anything other than the president!
Provisional Ballot: You’re probably hearing about provisional ballots all over the news right about now. If you are registered to vote, but for some reason you’re not showing up on the voter roll at your polling place, or you’re showing up under an incorrect address, it’s not a problem. Ask for a provisional ballot. It has all the same races on it, and once you turn it in, it will be counted after they verify your registration. Easy.
Lifetime appointees: The president gets to appoint a lot of judges to lifetime seats! Nine on the Supreme Court right now. 179 on the Court of Appeals, 673 for the District Courts, and nine on the Court of International Trade. That is 870 judges that the president can appoint on his own to lifetime seats (so it’s important who we pick for president).
✓ Tips to Make Voting Feel Less Overwhelming
What I hear the most from people is that ballots are overwhelming, and they don’t feel like they have enough information to make informed choices, so it’s easier to just not vote. So to make voting feel less overwhelming, do these three things so that the next time we have an election, you won’t feel like you’re playing catch-up:
1) Look up your representatives HERE
, and follow them on social media (you’re already on Instagram and Twitter all day, now you’ll see things as they come in)
2) Subscribe to daily political round-up newsletters to get a once-daily check-in – Here are some of my personal recommendations:
- 'What A Day' daily email covering everything that happened in politics that day (and it’s funny!)
- Causes.com: Email telling you when your representatives vote, and on what
3) Listen to political podcasts (even just having them on in the background) – Here are some of my personal recommendations:
✓ Where I look up my ballot
When election day arrives, or you get your ballot in the mail, you don’t need to go in blind. Every time I get my ballot, I go to VoteSaveAmerica.com
, and VotersEdge.org
to look up the candidates and propositions. They all provide in-depth information, including arguments and endorsements, that help make ballot decisions pretty easy!
✓ Where to drop off our ballot?
If you’re voting in-person (whether early, or on election day), remember to wear a mask, and keep 6 feet of distance between the next people in line. You’re allowed to bring in a ballot preparation guide with your voting answers on it, so don’t feel like you have to memorize all the races!
If you have a mail-in ballot, or an absentee ballot, drop it off at a designated ballot drop box (those are different from a regular blue mailbox). On the back of the sheet that has your “I Voted” sticker, you’ll see the 6 nearest locations of ballot drop boxes, and you can take it to any of them. Or you can drop it off in-person at a vote center or your polling location before 8pm on Election Day, which is Tuesday November 3rd.
I have sealed the envelope, signed and dated the back, and I’m going to drop off my ballot at a ballot drop box right now, so let’s go do that!
Linda Ignarro is an executive assistant at 72andSunny LA