Celebrating National Voter Registration Day
Volunteers across the country will help millions of Americans become registered voters on Sept. 24.
National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan initiative committed to better democracy. According to its website: “In 2008, six million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register. In 2013, we want to make sure no one is left out.”
More than 700 organizations are participating in the effort, but volunteers face a challenge. Today, 50 million eligible Americans are not registered to vote, and many are from poor or minority communities.
According to Jessica Reeves, vice president of partnerships for Voto Latino—a nonprofit that focuses on engaging young Latinos in the political process—the national voter initiative is “a collaborative effort where every organization takes the tools provided and makes it their own.”
Reeves said that in an off year, apathy might be worse than usual. But she wants potential voters to know that they could still have a say in many important decisions. Americans may not be picking a new president or Congress in 2013, but they will decide on nearly 1,500 political races and ballot initiatives.
“There’s a much smaller margin of victory electing people to your school board or city council, but those are often times people that affect your community even more directly than the big national elections, or even statewide elections,” said Reeves.
Citizens who will be 18 years old by the November 2014 election are eligible, but requirements vary from state to state. Nearly all states, except Wyoming, allow registration through the National Mail Voter Registration form. North Dakota requires no registration.
Growing concerns of voter fraud have led to greater restrictions, but National Voter Registration Day hopes to have everybody participate in the democratic process no matter which state they’re from.
All states require registration of at most one month before an election, so even if people can’t register on Sept. 24, the unofficial nationwide holiday serves as a timely reminder.
Registration deadlines for participation in November 2013 elections arrive soon.
“Our goal is to remind people that it’s not just about the politicians but about bringing the community together,” said Reeves.