It’s 2020 and it ushers in a year of presidential elections and counting heads among the citizens of the U.S. During the year that is unfolding, two key areas that can make a difference to the LGBTQ community and to the principles of democracy are simple: Vote and get counted.

Voting is one of the most crucial privileges that U.S. citizens have that few worldwide possess. It requires some research, position-taking and a trip to the polls to help select the leaders who represent us all. And, we should think of “all” as “everyone” — no matter what that person’s race, religion, economic status, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, etc. maybe.

First of all, if you are not registered to vote — now is the time to do so. Simply go online or visit your local election board’s headquarters and sign up. Once you’ve gotten a notification that you’re on the rolls, be courageous, be bold, be a voter. As we saw in the 2016 election, the difference in leadership can be simply a matter of a narrow gap in votes cast. Our democracy is in danger and we have the tools to do something about it. Our rights are being challenged every day. In the three years since taking office, Donald Trump and his ilk have systematically destroyed the gains that our community had obtained. Don’t let more of those rights slip away and help secure the future for the LGBTQ community now. Tomorrow may be too late.

Visit Carolinas’ state board of elections websites at and to learn how to register.

Already registered? Then try some civic duties and work for your local boards of election as a precinct official. The demand for these non-partisan roles helps to ensure that our election process remains safe, secure and fair. Positions include poll assistants, help desk assistants, machine managers, chief judges and party judges. Training is mandatory and provides the necessary information that a worker needs to be successful in their respective jobs. The days are long, but the rewards are large. Being part of the process brings you a real sense of pride that you’ve contributed to the election in a significant way.

Another way to be part of our American life is in making sure that you participate in the upcoming decennial census. This spring across the nation, everyone has the opportunity to be counted. Doing so gives our leadership the information they need to make decisions about such things as appropriations for roads, schools, and provides data for business owners to understand those they serve. Additionally, data determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.

The U.S. Census Bureau states: “The census tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation, and helps our communities determine where to build everything from schools to supermarkets, and from homes to hospitals. It helps the government decide how to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities. It is also used to draw the lines of legislative districts and reapportion the seats each State holds in Congress.”

This year for the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau’s America’s Families and Living Arrangements table package includes estimates of same-sex couples.

The new tables show there are 543,000 same-sex married households and 469,000 same-sex unmarried partner or cohabiting households. That number is compared to the 61.4 million opposite-sex married and eight million opposite-sex unmarried-partner households.

Currently, the bureau is hiring for the 2020 Decennial Census. Positions available range from office staff, supervisors and enumerators, and possibly more based upon your area’s needs.

Visit and learn more about how to be part of the process. Those who are chosen to serve get an opportunity to learn more about their neighbors and neighborhoods. Information that is obtained is done so in a totally confidential manner. Records are kept private for 72 years, after which they are released to the public. These temporary positions have flexible hours are a good way to earn some extra income. Pay rates are determined by location. Mileage is also paid to those who work in the field.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.