In Brief—Voting is one of the most important constitutional rights that exist. By voting, you will be helping democracy survive and grow. In this piece you are advised on how to go about exercising that right. Read it carefully, then VOTE, for crying out loud, VOTE!
A Critical Right—
When George W. Bush was elected in 2000, not by the people but by the Supreme Court conservatives, Bush actually received fewer votes than Albert Gore and, in the bargain, fewer than 48 percent of the voters cast their votes for Bush. Gore, on the other hand, received more than 48 percent of the popular vote. Put another way, less than 24 percent of the voters voted for George W. Bush, yet thanks to the Supreme Court conservatives, he won. Fewer than 24 percent means that less than a quarter of the voters voted for Bush. Putting aside the Supreme Court’s conservatives’ thumb on the scale, that paltry number brought us the illegal Iraq War and the deaths and chaos that rage still.
In Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the police killing of an unarmed youth, Michael Brown, the residents realized that a genuine memorial to Brown would be for the residents to register to vote. Though registering to vote was described by the tone-deaf Republicans as “disgusting,” the residents’ recognition of the power of the vote was both an affirmation of democracy and a display of the recognition that the vote was a way for them to exercise the power given to them by the Constitution.
In case you don’t understand where I’m going with these facts, this piece is a plea for all of you to vote in November and in every election that comes along. The vote gives you an opportunity to make your voice heard and advance democracy at the same time. Along the way, you can help erase America’s deplorable record for voting. In the presidential vote just mentioned between Bush and Gore roughly only half of the eligible voters bothered to vote. Talk about deplorable.
Here’s How You Vote—
Register—Your county Registrar of Voters, NAACP, League of Women Voters (anybody, not just women), La Raza, Rock the Vote, Native American Voter Registration and many, many others. If in doubt, ASK!
Documentation—Be sure to take identification such as drivers license, official photos, etc. States will differ in their requirements, so check ahead of time. Some states will try to make it difficult for you to register and vote. This may happen if you are elderly, a student away from home, a person of color or a former felon. If you are hassled, get the hassler’s name and immediately contact the ACLU. Be persistent and by no means get discouraged. You may be helping not only yourself but others similarly situated.
Inform Yourself—Prepare to vote intelligently by finding out about the candidates and the issues. Regarding the candidates, find out not only what they said but what they DID. Be aware that roughly 90% of all incumbents are reelected regardless of what they did (or didn’t do). The average voter simply recognizes the name and casts his/her ballot for the incumbent. This is not being smart. Vote for the candidate who best reflects your interests.
Regarding the issues, take the time necessary to read the pamphlet that will be sent to you and understand the arguments for and against the issue. What will best benefit society as opposed to the interests of the wealthy?
VOTE!— According to my information, the federal election is November 4. For the next election, federal or state, find out the date. Find out the location of the precinct where you will vote. Can you vote ahead of time? This may vary according to your state of residence, so check ahead of time. If you will be away or traveling, can you vote by absentee ballot? If you will be away on election day, contact the local Registrar of Voters and get an absentee ballot. Whatever you do, whether in person or absentee, VOTE on November 4!
Special Considerations—If you are elderly or a student away from home or a person of color or a former felon, find out the state rules that may affect you. As stated in the Documentation category above, if you are hassled, get the hassler’s name and immediately contact the ACLU. Particularly in Republican-dominated states, you may encounter efforts to discourage you from voting. Know your rights and politely but firmly insist on them. Make sure the poll workers understand that you intend to exercise your constitutional right to vote.
If you are a former felon who has paid his/her “debt to society,” the applicable rules vary from state to state. Prepare early by finding out what those rules are. The local ACLU, the NAACP and La Raza can advise you. As previously stated, be polite but firm about your wish to vote.
Know Your Rights—Voting is a constitutional right, so it’s important for you to understand those rights and exercise them.
Note: Yes, I know that I have written about the problems with America’s system of voting, but first things first. There’s an old saying that you should dance with the one that brung ya. In keeping with that thought, we need to recognize the reality of the current system and cast our votes. We can get to the problems later, but for now, let’s dance with the one that brung us. VOTE!
P.S. Voting is so important that I suggest you post this piece on your Facebook page. Just a suggestion.