Rock the Vote! ... Get out the Vote! ... Vote or Die.

By now, you probably feel like you've heard every catchy slogan there is about how important it is to make your voice heard on Election Day.

Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images.


And for many of us, we have a plan. Voting is a relatively simple endeavor.

Finagle an hour or two away from the office, drive to our local polling place, grab a patriotic sticker on the way out, and boom, we're done.

But for others, getting to the polls isn't quite so simple.

That's why there's a ton of amazing work being done behind the scenes, all over the country, to make sure everyone's voice gets heard in one of the most critical elections our country has ever faced.

Here are some of my favorite stories of people who are helping other people get to the polls this year.

With this election, even small plans could make a big difference.

1. In North Carolina, one organization is making sure LGBTQ voters don't get left behind.

Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images.

Jasmine Beach-Ferrara works with an organization called the Campaign for Southern Equality out of North Carolina. Election season is a huge, important challenge for them.

"LGBTQ people live in every town across the South. About one-third of LGBTQ people live in the South," she said. "Yet we're incredibly underrepresented in every level of government."

This year, her organization partnered with a queer- and trans-friendly health center for low-income folks in Asheville, where free shuttles have been taking about a dozen people a day to early voting locations.

That may not sound like a lot, but for a group that so desperately needs to be heard, every voice counts.

2. In a nearby town, both political parties are offering to drive anyone to the polls, regardless of party affiliation.

There's been a lot of talk this year about rigged elections and media bias, but at least in one part of the country, some people still remember what democracy is all about: Everyone gets an equal say about what's best for our nation.

Both the local Democratic and Republican parties in Buncombe County, North Carolina, have gotten in on the action of offering rides to the polls for anyone who asks.

"We've taken Democrats. We've taken Republicans. We'll take anyone who asks," said Nathan West, the county Republican Party chair. "We just want to make sure everyone has the opportunity."

3. In Pennsylvania, one school has a cool idea for getting college students to the polls.

Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, had a fleet of shuttles ready to take students to the closest polling place. The only problem was, there wasn't anyone to drive them all.

So a bunch of professors volunteered.

Jacqueline Joyce, a sophomore, said she'll be using the professor-driven service to get to the polls on Nov. 8. Her parents could have picked her up and driven her to the polling place near her home, about 25 miles away, but she said other students might not have had that option.

Photo by Jacqueline Joyce, used with permission.

"This mobilizes students to actually go vote because there's someone driving them around. Unless you're really politically engaged, I don't know how bothered people would be to walk," she said. "Walking and driving are totally different things."

As far as she's concerned, any barrier that can be removed, no matter how small, is a good thing for voter turnout.

4. In Corpus Christi, Texas, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Asheville, North Carolina, local governments are waiving bus fares on Election Day to encourage voters to show up.

Photo by Daniel Barry/Getty Images.

5. In many jails around the country, voting officials are stopping by to help non-felon inmates be a part of the democratic process.

Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images.

And the stories don't stop there either.

We've heard it a million times, but it's worth saying again: This election matters. The stakes are high. We need to come together as a country and make the right decision for the future of our world as we know it.

The fate of the nation can't only be left to the people who have cars and can afford to take a half-day off of work, so bravo to all the people fighting hard to make sure each one of us has a way to get to the polls.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.