In a year when many of us feel helpless, this election presents an opportunity to act.

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Illustration by Ruth Basagoitia

Lately, I’ve been looking for the bright spots in this difficult year.

The colorful signs that decorate the windows and front doors of my neighborhood, thanking mail carriers and other essential workers. Seeing folks reach out to help each other in big and small ways — getting groceries, giving money and time to ensure that people have the basics they need.

The tireless efforts of healthcare professionals, first responders, and other service workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic. The renewed calls for justice and equity happening across the country and around the world.

In thinking about these signs of community, service, and togetherness, one fact has become clear:

We have to take care of each other.

The pandemic has highlighted the key issues facing our communities and society at large — healthcare, housing, jobs, and social justice.

These issues take on even more importance as we head into a presidential election in November.

In a year when many of us feel helpless, this election presents an opportunity to act.

Much in the same way that wearing a mask benefits you and your neighbors, voting is an act of community care. It’s one way to take care of yourself and those around you.

For the nearly 30 million Americans who don’t have healthcare. For those whose right to vote has been taken away. For the millions of people who lost jobs during the pandemic, and who are struggling to make ends meet. For the families of the 200,000 people in the United States who lost their lives to COVID-19.

These people are our family members, co-workers, neighbors. They are us. By helping them, we help ourselves.

Numerous studies have shown that acts of service light up the reward centers in our brains, boost self-esteem, reduce stress, and may even help you live longer.

And, like just about everything else, the way we vote this year has changed.

If you’re voting in person this year, it’s important to have a game plan. Check out Healthline’s Safe Voting Guide for expert tips, safety precautions, and what to know (and bring) before you go.

We’ve also partnered with VoteAmerica to help you access all the resources you need ahead of election day.

Many of us are wondering what things will look like on the other side of COVID-19.

As we head into the next general election, a better question might be: What do we want things to look like?

Your vote is one way to help shape the future you want to see.

This process doesn’t begin or end on November 3. It takes patience and sustained engagement with our elected officials, neighborhoods, schools, districts, and families to build a society that sees and serves the needs of its people.

It’s a long game, but we can do it.

We have to take care of each other.

Be well,

Erin Petersen, Editor-in-Chief