How often do you vote? Odds
are, your lawmakers know that answer better than you do.
Elected officials – or
anyone else who wants to pay for it – can purchase a computer disc from local
election boards that gives them fingertip access to constituents’ names,
addresses, dates of birth and voting frequency. The only requirement to obtain
this information is a signed statement verifying the data will be used solely
for political purposes.
With this in mind, if your
lawmakers see you’ve been registered for several years yet you only bother to
vote once every four years or so, your phone call, letter, e-mail or
face-to-face meeting will have much less long-term impact. If you are not
registered, it means even less.
The key is to make it
difficult for lawmakers to vote against your wishes. If you don’t vote
regularly, they know it’s a safe bet you won’t bother to cast a ballot for
another candidate on Election Day.
So, be sure and take the
time now – with the elections less than 13 weeks away – to make sure your voice
is heard this November.
To register, follow the
guidelines listed below.
Each state has a different
deadline for voter registration, but in many states, you need to register at
least 30 days before Election Day. This year, Election Day is Nov. 2.
For most states, you can register
to vote in person or via mail. Depending on your state, you can print your
registration form off the Internet or pick one up in person from the DMV, local
board of elections office, post office, library or other location. Contact your
local election office or secretary of state’s office for specifics. Listings
for these offices can usually be found in the “government pages” section of
your local phone book.
Who can vote?
As long as you’re 18 by
Election Day, an American citizen and a resident of the state in which you’re
planning to register, you have an equal chance to decide who you want to run
your country, your state, your county and your town.
Where to vote
After you’ve sent in your
registration form, you will receive an information booklet or sample ballot in
the mail about where and when you should go to vote. Some states will send a
“voter registration ID card.”
Even if you’re on the road
on Election Day you can still vote. Many states allow advance voting and
mail-in ballots in addition to the traditional absentee ballots. Your local
election office should have details.
To vote by absentee ballot,
you must submit a request to the appropriate election official; the request
must be mailed at a specific time; and a ballot will be mailed up to 30 days
before each election — and it should be returned by a specific day or it will
According to the Federal
Election Commission, absentee ballots, depending on the state, can be requested
by contacting a county clerk, county auditor, county registrar or supervisor of
elections, or the board of elections. In most cases, the phone numbers are
listed in the government pages of your local phone book.
Finally, don’t forget to
make the time to vote.
--by Keith Goble, state legislative
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.