We are in an election year! All of the House of Representatives, 33 US Senators, 36 Governors, and numerous state and local offices are up for the vote in November, with many primary elections coming up before then, starting this month. This issue will focus on voter registration, the first step in turning resistance into electoral change.
Are you registered to vote? Did you recently move? Turn 18? Become a citizen? Just not sure? The National Association of Secretaries of State can help you figure out if you are registered, where you are registered, where your voting place is, what the voter identification rules are in your state, what the absentee and early voting rules are in your state, and who your election officials are and how to contact them. The site will direct you to the relevant website from any of the fifty states or the District of Columbia. For more information on voter registration, check out USA.gov’s “Register to Vote” page.
Did you know that you don’t need to live in a traditional residence in order to register to vote? The National Coalition of the Homeless runs the “You Don’t Need a Home to Vote” campaign to help the homeless, low-income individuals, and other economically disadvantaged groups register and vote. Read up on the campaign, share something you learn on social media, and consider donating.
47 million Americans have criminal convictions, which can complicate (or outright make impossible) exercising their right to register to vote. The ACLU offers the “Voting with a Criminal Record” report, which details what Americans with criminal records must do if they wish to register to vote.
Looking to help plan or join a voter registration drive? The ACLU “People Power” site can help you find a scheduled voting rights event near you.
Want to run your own voter registration drive in your own community? The American Association of University Women has a toolkit and offers support to anyone looking to start their own voter registration drive. The United Steel Workers labor union also offers state-by-state instructions, as well as a list of some Do’s and Don’ts. If you are interested in organizing your own voter registration drive, consider partnering with a high school, youth center, community college, or any venue that may have a lot of 18 year olds who need to register.
Page Gardner and Celinda Lake write in “Voter Registration is the Real Resistance” at the American Prospect about what kind of difference increased voter registration among women, young people, and racial minorities can make in 2018:
From partisan and illegal gerrymandering to onerous voter-ID laws to the absurd Presidential Commission on Election Integrity, the Trump administration and red-state lawmakers are working on many fronts to prevent and dissuade large numbers of eligible voters from exercising their most fundamental constitutional right. The target of these efforts—single women, millennials, and minorities—are the three groups of Americans most at risk of disenfranchisement and the most likely to support progressive causes and candidates—but only if robust registration efforts reach them.