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If you care about the future, get registered and vote!

Posted Sep 23 2008 1:04am

It’s labor day, and I had planned to rest from my labors, and post my next post on Wednesday. But after several conversations today with a few of my younger friends (thanks Matt), I’m concerned that there are lots of people with an opinion on how this election should turn out, but they’re not in a position to vote because they don’t know about the need to get registered first, or where to go, or how to vote. So…I’m posting today about the what, where and how of voting to help you get registered to do so.

If you’ve moved. If you’re a college student. If you want to have a voice. MOVE ON IT NOW!  And if you know any students or have friends who have recently moved, please forward a link to this post.  We’re all in it together, and together, we can move our country towards a positive future.

From voter registration to absentee ballots, Vote For Change provides everything you need to succeed at voting!

Why Bother? Isn’t it Rigged?

First thing I want you to know about voting is, yes, usually in every election there is some malfeasance somewhere. But that’s no excuse not to voice your opinion at the ballot box. By failing to vote, you empower the forces that want to deprive you of your right to participate in the decisions that create your future.

The system we live in is the result of the collective decision making of the people who have voted in every election since the founding of our republic. Our government is only as good as its people. Don’t like the government? VOTE! Like the government? VOTE! We are a nation of the people, by the people, for the people, and it is voting that we determine who makes the decisions that effect our lives.

What About Third Party Candidates?

You have my support to vote your conscience. And maybe your conscience tells you that the mainstream candidates don’t represent you, because they disagree with you on some important issues. That may well be so. But I think it important to remember that no candidate is going to agree with you on every issue. That is as it should be, because presidential candidates aren’t running for president of you. They are running for President in order to govern ALL of us. That means they have to appeal to a majority of us.

Maybe you think the purpose of your vote is to make a point. But I think that making a point is of less value than making a difference, and in too many elections, the race is tight and every vote actually does count. No third party candidate has a chance at winning the national election, because you need 270 electoral college votes to win, and NO third party candidate can come close. Our system was designed this way by the founding fathers, to avoid the chaos of multi-party systems. Maybe some day that will change, but not this time around.

My advice? Vote for candidates that you believe are most likely to have a real shot at winning, and will be most open to the things that matter to you. Third party candidates historically do not succeed.

And educate yourself about the issues that are going to be on the ballot. Have trouble understanding something? Ask someone you respect, or who you suspect shares your general views of good governance. Heck, you can post questions in the comments for this post!

When the election is over and the votes are counted, it will be what it will be. And if you don’t get what you want as a result of voting, at least you had a voice. Use that to get motivated and get more involved for the next round. As my father in law used to say, “It may be a terrible system. But it’s the best system in the world.”

The information that follows can be found with more details and links in a FAQ at the following URL:

http://www.declareyourself.com/voting_faq/state_by_state_info_2.html

How do you vote?

What are the steps necessary to succeed at voting for the candidate, policies and character of your choice?

First you register. Then, as a registered voter, you’ll be sent information about where to vote. Or, in the case of Oregon, you’ll be sent a vote-by-mail ballot.

Then educate yourself before the vote. This is incredibly important. Most new voters think that elections are about the main candidates. But in fact, most elections offer voters the opportunity to have their say on a whole host of candidates, propositions and measures. And don’t kid yourself. You live with the consequences of all of these, not just the head of the ticket. (The ticket is the nickname given to the roster of candidates representing a particular party.)

Lastly, put the election on your calendar, because election day is not that far away. It’s November 4th, 2008, and if you want to have a voice in the future, election day is the day when your vote counts.

Who is eligible to vote?

If you are a citizen of the USA, and a resident in the state where you are registered, 18 years old at the time of the election, mentally competent (in other words, there isn’t a court or judge anywhere who has deemed you NOT mentally competent) and you’ve not been convicted of a felony, then YOU have the right and responsibility to vote.

How much time do you have to get registered? Most states require voting registration at least 30 days before an election, but this varies by state. Follow the link earlier in this email to find out what your state requires.

What if you’re a student or just moved to a new state?

Ok, here’s the slightly tricky part.

If you have proof that you live somewhere in the form of a lease or utility or phone bill that lists your current address, then you should register and vote where you currently live. But if you live in a dorm, and the address on your driver’s license or other identification is from your home state, then you are considered a resident of your home state and you will have to vote absentee ballot, or go home to vote.

There are other options, and you can read about them at the link, but they will require more of your time and energy. What I’ve given you is the easiest way to proceed.

By the way, POBoxes are insufficient for voting addresses. You need an actual address.
How do you vote absentee?

Contact your local election officials to request an absentee ballot application. Click here to find their contact information. Some states allow voters to vote early, even if they are able to make it to the polls on Election Day. This practice is often referred to as early voting or no-excuse absentee voting. Click here to see if this is available in your state!

Many college or university students temporarily living away from home need to vote absentee. If you would like an absentee ballot be sent to wherever you plan to be on Election Day, fill out an absentee ballot request application for your home state.

Click here to check your individual state’s Secretary of State to be sure what to do for YOUR state.

Click here to download an absentee ballot request application. Follow the directions on the form and mail it in to the appropriate contact and address.
If you a member of the military serving overseas, or you’re a U.S. citizen or military dependent living overseas, visit the Overseas Vote Foundation for detailed information on registering and voting.

Be well

Rick

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