On National Voter Registration Day, A Look At The Importance Of Registering To Vote
Today is National Voter Registration Day, and like all the best holidays it’s easy to celebrate! Today you can visit this website to register to vote or check your state’s Secretary of State or State Board of Elections website, which may allow you to check your status, update your address, or register to vote. Then, spread the word!
The United States has notoriously low levels of voter turnout and things aren’t looking up. In the 2014 midterms, our most recent national election, voter turnout was the lowest ever recorded since the Census Bureau began collecting voting data in 1978. In 43 states, less than half of eligible voters actually turned out.
Even more drastic is the significantly lower turnout rates among low-income Americans and people of color. White, affluent voters continue to be overrepresented in American elections and this can have a big effect on public policy. According to a report from Demos, non-registered people were far more progressive than registered voters on every issue examined, from free community college to raising the minimum wage. By excluding so many eligible voters, our political system tunes out a diversity of viewpoints in our electorate that has a big effect on public policy. For more on the turnout gap, check out this report.
One important step in closing the turnout gap is getting people registered to vote. This is a particularly important National Voter Registration day because 2016 is the first year in United States history that the Rising American Electorate—young people, people of color, and unmarried women—are expected to cast over half of all the ballots in the election. About 57 percent of the eligible-voter population is a part of the Rising American Electorate, but a huge portion of that group is not registered to vote. In fact, in 2014, more than four in ten RAE members were not registered to vote. The chart below gives a more detailed breakdown:
BOTTOM LINE: Registering to vote is an important step in ensuring that our voting population is actually representative of the American population. Representation starts with registration, so celebrate National Voter Registration Day!
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