Make sure eligible voters can participate.
I teach students about United States political culture and political participation in my political science and sociology courses. Two of the core ideals guiding us are equality and self-government. Americans made strides toward achieving these ideals in terms of voting rights through a number of key amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Voting and Election Laws, 2021). Recently, however, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down important portions of this Act that protected ALL citizens’ rights to participate in fair elections (Shelby v. Holder, 2013; Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, 2021). We now seem to be regressing in terms of these core ideals. It’s imperative we do not lose sight of the importance of having a say in how we are governed. The notion of our representative democracy depends upon it.
Did you know you must be registered to vote BEFORE you can vote?
Alarmingly, “60% of eligible voters are never asked to register” (National Voter Registration Day, 2021). About 25% of eligible voters are not properly registered because they have moved and not updated their registration records, have missed the registration deadline entirely, or do not know how to get registered to vote (About Us, 2021). Part of the issue is that every state has its own rules for elections. There are different deadlines for registering and different document requirements to verify eligibility. This can lead to confusion for voters.
Since 2012, a national movement has been underway to improve those aforementioned statistics (About Us, 2021).The creators of this special voter registration holiday have four clear goals in mind: Register Voters, Educate Citizens, Mobilize Volunteers, and Unite Americans. (About Us, 2021).
Remember, you cannot vote if you are not registered.
Voting matters for a number of reasons:
- Elections have consequences. It definitely matters who has the power to make policy decisions that affect us all.
- Not voting is giving up your voice. Our governing documents guarantee some form of self-government at every level (national, state, and local). Do not throw away your chance to be heard.
- It’s your money. Policy makers also decide how to spend tax dollars. This is your hard-earned money and you deserve a voice in how it is allocated.
- Voting is an opportunity for change. You do not need to settle for the status quo. Change can be the difference in quality education, smooth roads, and safe bridges, for instance.
- The community depends on you. Remember, a key aspect to living in society is contributing to the greater good for all. Voter participation is a key to that contribution. (Articles, 2020).
About Us. (2021). Who we are. National Voter Registration Day. https://nationalvoterregistrationday.org/about/
Articles. (2020, September 10). 5 reasons why you should vote. https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/19-1257
Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee. 594 US _ (2021). https://nationalvoterregistrationday.org/about/
National Voter Registration Day. (2021). https://nationalvoterregistrationday.org/
Shelby County v. Holder. 570 US 529 (2013).https://www.oyez.org/cases/2012/12-96
Voting and Election Laws. (2021). https://www.usa.gov/voting-laws