It’s National Voter Registration Day! Have you registered to vote yet? Organizations and plain-old politically active citizens are spending the day helping raise awareness about registering to vote and even helping people go through the process. Some might not think voter registration is all that important, but here’s a snapshot of voter history in Illinois during general elections since 1964:
A quick glance at the numbers might seem pretty good, but those percentages are based on registered voters who then went on to vote in the election. If you look at Illinois’ population of voting age individuals (approx. 9.7 million), the turnout percentage will likely be around 55% for this year. That’s not too great anymore, right? Voter turnout is even worse during election years where there is not a presidential candidate.
It doesn’t help that some states (like Illinois) don’t have automatic voter registration systems, meaning each person has to individually register to vote. Registration deadlines and requirements (like having a permanent residential address) can complicate matters even more. So National Voter Registration Day is both a helpful reminder but also a non-partisan campaign to ensure that eligible voters can participate in the democratic process.
Not registered? No problem (well I can’t guarantee that, but, hey, points for optimism)! We can fix that (maybe)! Many states have their own system for registering voters, but here are a few general resources:
Within these websites you can find information like:
- State-by-state deadlines to register to vote, to request an absentee ballot, and to turn in an absentee ballot
- A list of states that offer online registration
- A form to find out if you’re registered to vote
- Who will be on your ballot including national, state, and municipal candidates
- Election reminders via text message (super modern, right?)
- What to do if you’ve moved to another city in the same state
- How deployed military personnel and/or families can vote
- How to vote if you’re studying abroad, on sabbatical, or just don’t know when or if you’re coming back to the United States
- Requirements to vote early
- Official voting hours on election day
- Resources for college students away from home on election day
So why talk about voting on an ag blog?
Too often we think of Election Day being about the future president. Sure, it takes center stage. This election will be momentous for our country and its future direction, but other decisions are being made on that day. The candidates on the ballot for local, regional, and state elections are just as important as presidential candidates. These elections select the leaders of your community, the people who will have a direct and a tangible impact on your future and the health of the community in which you live.
Also, do research before you vote. It might seem tedious to learn about all of these people rather than just select a random name or not vote at all, but think of it this way: Your vote is one more towards making sure the right people are elected who can represent your interests, your farm, and your family.
It’s not impossible that your vote can be the one that makes the difference.