Quit smoking? You should. I did. But that’s another post. Lose weight? Get in shape? You should. I’m trying. But that’s another post. Follow Steve’s blog? See how good you are at this?!
Most of the resolutions we make are difficult to keep. We are almost doomed to failure. We know that going in. We forgive ourselves in advance for not making it. There is one New Year’s resolution, though, that you’re not making. No one ever picks this one. But it’s incredibly important. Patriotic. Responsible. Necessary. Oh, and it’s bizarrely easy to do. Failure is damned near impossible. It’s free (in most places). And it feels good.
That’s right. Get yourself registered to vote. If you are an American who has reached the age of 18 and who is eligible to vote, then you have absolutely no excuse whatsoever for not being registered to vote. At the end of this post is a link that will get you registered. You can register online; it only takes a few minutes. I was already registered, but I just re-registered (so I could recommend this way of doing it). I live in Los Angeles, and all that I needed was my Driver’s License (or State ID) number, the last four digits of my Social Security number, my address and date of birth. Presto. Done. I instantly received an email from the California Secretary of State confirming my shiny new status as a registered voter. Different states have different rules, but the Rock The Vote website whisks you through your state’s process. How’s that for an easy-to-keep resolution? You’re welcome.
I’m guessing most who read this blog post are already registered to vote. Once you’ve registered, you’re good to go until you move, or if you want to change your party affiliation. If you’re like me, you vote in every election. Every year, Election Day is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. We elect presidents every four years. We elect all of Congress and one-third of the Senate in even-numbered years. There are state and county and municipal elections for candidates and ballot measures every year, along with the odd special election to fill vacant seats. And in the months leading up to the General Election in November, there are all those lovely primaries where the parties get to pick their candidates for the final contest.
So, you love to vote and wouldn’t miss it? You find something sacred in this most secular of rites. Whether you live in a sprawling city or tiny town, you love the unique coming together in your ‘polling place’ – the school gymnasium, church hall, fire station or library. You actually wear that “I voted” sticker proudly on your lapel or your smartphone case. Maybe you’re even a bit of a political junkie? Great. But you’re not off the hook. Here’s a resolution for the (small d) democratic overachievers like you: Find someone you know who is not registered to vote, and help her get registered. (You cannot legally do it for another person, but you can walk her through the process.) And then resolve to help her cast that vote in the upcoming primaries and on Election Day. Or in early voting. Or by mail.
Are you reading this and wondering whether or not you are registered to vote? My advice is to assume you aren’t and go through the quick process to register. Even if you were registered, the new filing simply ‘overwrites’ the old one. Can’t hurt. So go ahead, get yourself registered. And then go the extra mile and help someone else you know who needs to register and vote in this year’s elections.
Whatever your politics, whatever your priorities, the 2014 elections WILL have a significant impact on YOUR life and on those you love. I won’t tell you which way to vote. That’s another post. In 2012, 130 million Americans voted for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney for President. That’s a lot of people… but still only 58% of the people who were eligible to vote.
2014 is a so-called “off-year election” because it’s not a presidential contest. It’s “only” the entire House of Representatives, 1/3 of the Senate, governors and legislatures in many states, and ballot measures to determine everything from your sales taxes, minimum wage, women’s reproductive health care, voting rights, gun control, who can marry, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, et cetera. These are not small questions, nor dull topics. Whether you like it or not, you’ve got one or more horses in this race. But voting patterns for off-year elections are long established, and if they hold true in 2014, only about 40% of Americans who are eligible to vote will bother to cast a ballot.
Think about that. 40 million people – who voted (D) or (R) for president in 2012 – are likely to just sit out the 2014 elections. Why? That’s another post. THIS post is about how we can change that. It’s not difficult. It costs nothing. We are going to get ourselves registered. We are going to help would-be non-voters get themselves registered. We are going to vote. And we are going to help would-be non-voters to cast their votes.
I am not going to donate or raise money for any candidate or party in 2014. Our political system is drowning in money. But I am going to work like hell to make sure more people vote for the candidates and causes that I support. And you should do the same. Think about it this way: it’s like voting twice. Or ten times, or a hundred. Without the slightest whiff of fraud. BOOM. There are “register to vote” buttons and links scattered all over my blog. Give it a whirl. You can click on the VOTE TWICE image or the EASY BUTTON in this post.