V O T E

Today is National Voter Registration Day. According to The Root, the goals of the “nonpartisan coalition of organizations, volunteers and celebrities behind National Voter Registration Day is working to achieve the following goals:

  • Register Voters: A network of a thousand organizations operating on the ground and through social media will register tens of thousands of voters in the field and tens of thousands more online–while also receiving pledges to vote from the already registered.
  • Mobilize Volunteers: By engaging nonprofits not usually engaged in voter registration drives and amplifying existing drives through event-based recruitment and cultural outreach, National Voter Registration Day will bring thousands of additional volunteer voter registrars into the field just when we need them most.
  • Educate Eligible Voters: Millions of voters need to register and re-register every year. By utilizing new technology and leveraging cultural partners, we’ll educate more Americans than ever before, bringing new voters into the fold.
  • Change the Conversation: National Voter Registration Day will be an opportunity to put our differences aside and celebrate the rights that unite us as Americans.”

The election is looming ever closer, but there is still time. The Countdown Timer, says we are at 40 days to the election. That may sound like a short period of time but, in reality, there is still time enough to register and vote in many states. There are millions of people living in the Unites States of America who do not enjoy the privilege of voting here. Some are immigrants,  both documented and undocumented, who because they are not United States citizens, cannot vote. Others, who may have made mistakes in the past, even though they have paid their debt to society, may as well be branded with a giant “F” for Felon. In addition to being denied the privilege of voting, many people with felony records have a difficult time obtaining/retaining gainful employment. If they can not support themselves working, they have few options for assistance from the government, as many of these options, are also denied because of their criminal record. However, that is another post for another day.

Which brings us to the many United States citizens who are of age, have the legal right to register and vote, have the proper identification many states now require, yet they lack the will to do so. What the hell is up with that? I have heard every excuse for why people who can and should vote, do not and will not. Let’s take a moment to refute one of the most commonly used excuses:

The popular vote doesn’t elect the President, the electoral college does. To some extent this is true. However, when the systems works as it is designed to, the popular vote determines how the electors for the majority of states will cast their ballots. According to Infoplease:

There are a total of 538 electors. In December, the electors meet in each state’s capital to formally elect the president. While electors are supposed to vote in accordance with their state’s voters, they do not always do so. In 1988 for example, a West Virginia elector did not vote for Michael Dukakis, who had carried that state. Instead the elector voted for Dukakis’s running mate, Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen

Critics say the current system is unfair, unnecessary, and should be abolished. They claim that the Electoral College causes candidates to ignore states where the outcome is certain in favor of states where polls say the contest is close. For example, Massachusetts is usually safely in the Democratic column on election day. Therefore, Democrats don’t need to worry about it, while Republicans can by-pass it.

However, if the Electoral College were abolished and the popular vote tally were used, each side might find it useful to campaign in Massachusetts, even though the state might remain in the Democratic column.

Supporters of the Electoral College want to keep it because it forces candidates to pay attention to small states as they put together winning numerical strategies. In the 2000 campaign, for instance, both Gore and Bush devoted considerable attention to such relatively small states as Minnesota (10 electoral votes) and Wisconsin (11 electoral votes). Polls indicated a close election in each state.

Your vote does count. There are many countries in which this may not be true — America is not one of them.

Besides, there is more to this election than just deciding the presidency. There are many national and state senate and congressional races to consider. If you still don’t think your vote counts for the president, you can’t say the same for gubernatorial, senate and congressional races for your home state.

We live in the information age. There is no excuse for being under-informed on what each candidate stands for — national or regional. So stop making excuses for what is really just laziness and apathy. Don’t be afraid to engage in critical thinking. I promise it won’t hurt your brain as much as trying to wrap your mind around how someone you don’t want running the government managed to get elected and into office.

Get informed. Get registered and Get out and VOTE!