Why you should register to vote now and then actually do it in November

If you thought that you wouldn’t have to vote again until the 2020 presidential election, please think again. The midterm elections  — you know that other time where you can vote representatives into the government — are coming up in November.

I’m not sure if it’s that most Americans forget or just don’t care, but only around 40 percent of us vote in the midterm elections, according to fairvote.org. In the 2014 midterm elections, that percentage was actually estimated to be 35 percent.

Aside from being embarrassing for the U.S. as nation, the low voter turnout is also incredibly damaging. Voting is one of the easiest ways to make your voice heard in a democracy; that’s kind of the whole point. By choosing not to register or choosing not to vote, you’re giving up your say on who represents you and makes policies that impact you. That’s the equivalent of giving up a say in what happens to you.

It’s literally so easy to register to vote, too, even if you never go outside. If you go to vote.gov and enter your state, you’ll receive step by step instructions on what to do. There are 37 states plus the District of Columbia that allow you to register to vote online. If the state that you would like to register for — assuming that it’s not Florida — doesn’t offer online registration, you can often do so in the mail, too. There’s really no excuse.

I know what you’re thinking: “But November is so far away!” Actually, it’s not. So register now. And once you do, start educating yourself on who’s running in your district. Do so thoroughly. Look at their platform, sure, but also look at their history and ask questions. Are they known to support the same ideals that you do? If not, what have they done to prove they do now? Who donates money to their campaigns? What have they done to prove they can help bring the country together rather than keep us ripped apart?

It’s a lot of work, but hey, that’s the price of democracy. If you need a place to start, ballotpedia.org/United_States_Congress_elections,_2018 can explain who’s running in your district and even provide some context to the race — like how people in your area have voted in the past. You can use that as a springboard for further research.

Whether you’re incredibly unhappy with the state and actions of the U.S. government or your over-the-moon ecstatic about them, don’t waste the opportunity to do something about it. Voting in the midterm elections isn’t just about choosing a name, it’s about sharing your voice.

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