In a live audio broadcast from the White House, on October 5th, 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States and Democratic nominee for reelection said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
These are powerful words to live up to. We in America would like to think we are educated, informed and aware of global and local issues. Everyone has a right to his or her opinion. The American democratic system is designed to allow up to 300 million citizens to choose the path for the country. It is complex, confusing and, at times, vast enough to be ridiculous to manage.
According to the United States Constitution, U.S. citizens technically do not have the right to vote. Amendments to the Constitution of the United States address eras of discrimination in voting. Amendment 15 “Prohibits the denial of suffrage based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Amendment 19 “Establishes women’s suffrage.” Amendment 26 “Establishes the right to vote for those age 18 years or older.” Since the Constitution fails to mandate citizens’ basic right to vote, that duty is passed to the states. Such a complicated system needs some simplification.
I am a registered voter in Laramie, Wyoming. I have a little card in my wallet that records my district, precinct, and ward and nearest polling place. It’s not fancy, or even laminated, but I am proud to have it.
I know it sounds cheesy, but I believe that in a democracy every voice makes a difference. Many Americans feel passionately about their country, their democracy, and pursue any path to improve and protect it. Voting is their tool to make their voices heard. I feel it is an innate right – a duty, even. It means contributing a viewpoint to the society. People are busy, time is short and we all have excuses. It’s worth the effort. In fact, it has never been easier to prepare to vote, thanks to innovative new resources.
The digital age allows access to all kinds of information conveniently in the comfort of home. Sites like OurTime.org offer online services assisting young voters. This organization’s motto is “Standing Up For Young Americans.” In a 2011 Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News & Analysis, Abha Bhattarai described OurTime.org as a non-profit organization created in 2011 by Mathew Segal “with every intention of creating a political lobby for the under-30 crowd.” Segal focuses his efforts to helping entrepreneurs and job seekers. Segal formed his organization with members of political campaigns from Declare Yourself and Student Association For Voter Empowerment.
According to the OurTime.org website, “The mission of Our Time is to combine the voting and purchasing power of young Americans so that politicians and businesses represent our needs better.” This site is a place to go to get the information you need about registering to vote in your state. Just select the “Vote” link and everything users need to know is just a click away. This site allows users to check if you are already registered to vote. (It’s funny how many people don’t actually know.) In addition, users can get information about state deadlines, overseas voting and absentee ballots. Enter in your email address and zip code to begin. If users have any specific questions, the site provides Secretary of State contact information. The site has an FAQ section for basics such as election dates, polling times and links to political party sites. While the 2012 Presidential Election will take place on November 6, 2012, some state registration deadlines are as early as October 6th.
OurTime.org is a phenomenal, accessible tool because of its willingness to diversify and ally with other organizations. I first noticed them on Facebook and instantly admired their affiliation with other organizations, such as MoveOn.org, Campus Advantage and Upworthy.
The site is known for its celebrity videos and support. In September of 2012, The Huffington Post UK posted a video, “You Should Care, What’s Wrong With You?” starring Steve Carell, the actor of the popular hit show, “The Office”. He volunteered his face in a video circulating the digital world in which he threatens non-voters with a smack and “a good box to the ear.” Other celebrity volunteers appearing on the website wishing to encourage young people to vote include Chelsea Clinton, Rachel Zoe, Usher and Renee Zellweger. Regardless of celebrity support, the information available is impressive in its own right.
I am registered already, but I still entered my information, out of curiosity about accessibility for Wyoming sites. Unfortunately, my information caused a disclaimer to appear: “The state of Wyoming does not accept the National Voter Registration form.” Instead, a link to the Wyoming Secretary of State website was provided.
Ourtime.org is a valuable resource for anyone interested in knowing more about voting or is so busy that they haven’t had time to register. This remarkable website is successfully reaching out to the younger generation and providing a convenient way to prepare them to vote.
Don’t let the fuzzy details of the electoral college, the ugliness of the current smear campaign or the overall lack of bipartisanship sway you from developing your values and standing up for them. The ultimate goal of democracy is to allow the people to participate in their own government. In order for this nation to continue to thrive, we have to work together to make it a better place!