Today is National Voter Registration Day and volunteers from all over the nation are working to make sure that anyone who wants to exercise their right to vote can do so.
Celebrities are joining members of many non-profit organizations at concerts, sporting events, malls, and subways to talk to people and register them to vote. Their goal is to register thousands of voters either online or in person and to encourage all Americans to celebrate their right to participate in the election of America’s leaders.
If you will be 18 years of age before the designated Election Day in the state in which you reside, are a U.S. citizen, and meet your state’s residency requirements, National Voter Registration Day is for you. There is only one exception — if you live in North Dakota, there is no voter registration.
How to Register
It is easy to register to vote. You can visit Vote.USA.gov and register online. Some states have different registration procedures and if you need information, go to your local or state election office for guidance. You can request or download a National Mail Voter Registration Form, fill it out online or by hand, print it, and sign it. Mailing instructions are provided for sending it to your state office. The form is even available in many other languages for those who need it.
Picking a Party
Are you worried about whether to register on this National Voter Registration Day as a Democrat or Republican or Independent or some other political party? Some states don’t accept party affiliations and you don’t have to choose a political party when you register to vote. If you do register with a political party, you can still vote for a candidate from any party in the general election. The only limitations in some states are in the primary elections.
Barriers to Voting
Maybe you have a trip planned, or you will be studying abroad on Election Day. No problem. Go ahead and let the National Voter Registration Day volunteers sign you up. You can request an absentee ballot.
If you have registered to vote today, remember that if you move to a new permanent address, or change your name, you must re-register to vote or update your voter registration.
A survey conducted by the California Voter Foundation showed that two-thirds of the California residents participating in the survey felt that politics are controlled by special interests, causing them not to vote. The second leading reason for not voting was that those surveyed felt the candidates didn’t really speak to them.
Those working to register voters on this National Voter Registration Day should not be discouraged by these comments, however, according to Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation President. She reports high percentages of those surveyed still think voting is an important civic duty and an important way for citizens to express their opinions on issues important to them and their families. National issues such as climate change or GMO labeling standards can be addressed by voters in the leaders they choose. Voters can visit iSideWith.org to find candidates that match their viewpoints on key issues along with political information.
The right to vote originally was given only to white men who owned real estate. Four constitutional amendments extended voting rights to men of other races, to women, and to those 18 or older. Surprisingly, the U.S. Constitution does not address the right to vote, except in the amendments to the Constitution, which only prohibit discrimination in setting the qualifications for voting.
Check out National Voter Registration Day at NationalVoterRegistrationDay.org for more information on registering to vote. Every registered voter has a voice in choosing those who represent him or her. Young voters can make sure candidates know that they care about college tuition costs or minimum wage laws and their votes can result in more money directed to education instead of retirees’ health care. Take advantage of your right to vote today.