The informed voter: registration

File photo
File photo

Registration. It is a word that college students are trained to fear. It means long meetings with advisors, frantic rearrangement of schedules and general weeping and gnashing of teeth. Unfortunately, it is a word that every prospective voter must face.

I like to think of voting as attending an exclusive, A-list event. You can’t just barge in and begin stuffing yourself with crab cakes. Your name has to be on the list. Voting is different in that rather than a five star restaurant, you will be entering a musty-smelling church. And rather than being greeted by an attractive hostess, you will be met with a khaki-clad senior citizen. But it is the same in that your name has to be on the list. (On second thought, this is the only way that the two are similar.) Fortunately, getting your name on this list does not require socialite inclinations or long nights spent on Portal crying over your keyboard. In fact, voter registration is quite simple.

The first step to registration is determining if you are eligible. Your eligibility hinges on three things: First, are you a US citizen? Second, will you be at least 18 years of age by election day? Third, are you reading this article outside of a prison cell? If you answered yes to all three, congratulations! You’re eligible!

Step two is a bit more difficult, but having passed step one, you definitely have some momentum on your side. For this step, you would need to collect a voter registration form from your county clerk, complete it accurately and return it to said clerk.  “What horror!” you say. “I don’t even know what a county clerk is let alone where to find one!” To this I say, “Calm yourself. The answer to this predicament is the same as the answer to every other. It is called the Internet.”

Indeed, in my tireless traversing of the Web, I found a particularly helpful resource called Gotta Vote. This site, with the URL www.gottavote.com, was made in an effort to streamline and reduce the stress created by voter registration, and it does so very successfully. Just put your information into this electronic beauty and it will spit out a fully filled-out form that is perfectly prepped for the printer.

Thus, it logically follows that step three is to print this document and is followed by step four which is to put your signature in one final box on the form. You can then fold up the document, stick a stamp on it, and complete the fifth and final step by sliding it into the nearest mail slot. After all of this you then have permission to splurge with your bonus bucks and buy a full pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to eat as you catch up on Gossip Girl.

But until you push those two sheets of paper through that mail slot, you have no excuses. The fact is that this is important and isn’t difficult. But despite this fact, at the time of the 2008 election, only 58.5 percent of U.S. citizens ages 18 to 24 were registered to vote, and only 48.5 percent actually voted! That’s less than half!

For as much as we, young America, talk about being ourselves and letting our voices be heard (just watch any episode of Glee), we are doing a very p-oor job of letting our opinions be heard in the very system set up for us to do that, and as a result are letting ourselves down. We are willing are willing to talk the talk but will not walk the walk … fifty meters from our cars into the voting precinct. Well guess what young America. 67.8 percent of citizens over the age of 75 made that walk, so I know that you can do it!

However, to make that walk on election day, you need to get your name on the guest list. So, take five minutes, visit www.gottavote.com and take the first step in that walk by registering today. It isn’t difficult, but it is very important.

About the Author

Gabe Gunnink

Gabe Gunnink is a Chimes staff writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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