Welcome to late summer 2020, where it has felt like March for nearly five months now and many things that Americans take for granted have now become more complicated.
One of these things is casting your vote in the upcoming elections for president and members of Congress. In the past, most of us would just plan to go to our polling place on the first Tuesday in November, which falls this year on November 3.
Or, if we were going to be out of town, we’d have to remember to request and send in an absentee ballot by its deadline. But honestly, we didn’t always remember to do that. After all, so many people would be voting in person, that making sure our vote got recorded didn’t seem that crucial.
This year is different because of COVID-19. Since public health measures will make in-person voting on election day more challenging, in many places voting officials are encouraging citizens to cast their ballots in advance, by mail.
The November election is also different because everybody agrees that the stakes are higher than usual. Much higher.
Whatever other issues you care about, we here at Secure Futures ask you to consider how crucial the upcoming election will be for clean energy.
When it comes to politics, we like to be nonpartisan. We’ve been pleased to work with elected officials both Republican and Democratic on public policy to remove the barriers to going solar in the cities and states where we do business, as well as on the federal level.
But now the difference between the parties and the presidential candidates is so clear that if solar power is a priority, then there’s really only one choice in November for solar: Joe Biden and the Democrats.
Biden vs Trump on Solar Power
As Solar Magazine explains, Biden has developed a solar plan that will not “just tinker around the edges” of the energy system, but will make major leaps in moving America from dirty energy to clean energy:
He has promised to spend $2 trillion on renewable energy in the next four years if elected. More boldly, he has promised to see the U.S. use 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035—a substantial shift up from a prior target of 2050, and one that would leave the U.S. with essentially just 10 years from the end of Biden’s first time to achieve his aim.
Specifically, Biden wants to see a newly-created Unity Task Force help drive the installation of a whopping 500 million solar panels within 5 years. This task force would pursue these green goals while also actively seeking to drive stronger action on climate change.
Of course, there are many unknowns, including the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. There are no guarantees that a Biden administration would be able to put all its plans for expanding solar power into practice. But what is guaranteed is that Biden wants more solar and will try different ways to get it.
This stands in stark contrast to President Trump, who has made it clear that he is indifferent to clean energy at best and hostile to solar and wind at worst. The priority of the Trump Administration has been to protect fossil fuels and even help them expand. If the president is re-elected in the fall, he will have a new mandate to push even more government support to coal, oil and natural gas while putting new obstacles in the way of renewables.
A Biden Administration will have more opportunity to implement its plans if the Democrats keep control over the House of Representatives and gain control over the Senate. Under Democrat control, Congress is more likely to pass policy that helps solar, such as extending the current solar federal tax credit before it expires next year or even passing a carbon tax that would help level the playing field for non-polluting clean energy with fossil fuels that put out carbon emissions.
Yes, this Year You Actually Need a “Voting Plan”
Whether you agree with our take on solar policy or not, we hope you’ll do what it takes to make sure that your vote will be counted in this important election. And that will mean planning out your vote more than in the past.
With less than 70 days left until election day, non-partisan voting technology website Vote.org suggests that you get started now going through the steps to make your vote count:
- Check your registration
- Register to vote
- Vote by mail if you can
- Sign up for election reminders
- Pledge to register (if you’re under 18)
- Locate your polling place if you’re planning to vote in person
Vote.org offers election deadlines, dates and rules for each state through easy-to-use interactive tools. Here are links to voting information for places where Secure Futures is active:
The main thing to know is that wherever you live, you will have options that may include voting by mail starting in the next few weeks, voting in person at a local government office before election day, and voting in person on election day itself. The Vote.org system will walk you through the options available in your state.
Finally, let’s talk about voting by mail, the subject of much partisan rhetoric and disagreement. Here are the facts from the experts. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that voting by mail is safer for your health than going to a crowded public building to vote on election day. That’s good news, because, according to a leading elections expert, “mail-in voting is safe, reliable and trustworthy.”
However you decide to cast your ballot for the November election, we hope you’ll start planning soon. In fact, today is not too early to get started by making sure that you’re registered to vote.
The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher
This will be a historic election that will shape our country’s politics and economy not just for the next four years, but for decades or even centuries into the future.
Scientists tell us that the world today only has about ten more years to take serious action to prevent runaway climate change. Installing as much solar power in as many places as we can is a key part of ensuring a safe climate for generations to come.
The election in November will help decide if America gets serious about building out a clean economy quickly enough to make a real difference, or if we continue to let dirty energy interests pump dangerous pollution into our air and water that will push our environment ever closer to dangerous tipping points.
Solar power is as good for the environment as it is for the economy. It’s time that America take our rightful place at the head, not the tail, of the clean energy revolution. The stakes in November couldn’t be higher.