Some 158 million Americans voted in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, but 63 million eligible people could not because they weren’t even registered to vote.
In New York, there are some 13 million registered voters, and another 2 million people of voting age who aren’t registered. Voter turnout has increased in recent years, but voter registration has declined slightly.
Americans who neglect their civic duty to vote are roundly chastised every November, but the emphasis must be put on persuading unregistered people to register — and helping them to do so.
Education is a huge part of increasing voter registration.
Municipalities must continue to partner with nonprofits like the League of Women Voters to help people understand the importance of voting, and how simple it is to legally register. There are many websites that offer you help to register to vote. Perhaps the easiest is www.Vote411.org.
Next Tuesday, Sept. 19, is National Voter Registration Day, which, since its inception in 2012, has helped register more than 5 million Americans to vote. The West Hempstead Public Library is holding an event that day to help people do so. More events will be held across Long Island.
Clearly, voting is an important issue. The health of a representative democracy depends on people voting. It also depends on constant outreach to get people registered to vote.
In New York, citizens who are 16 or 17 can pre-register, an important first step in joining the voting public. Civics classes in high schools often provide voter registration forms to students of eligible age to start the process. These students are educated about the history of voting rights, and the importance of exercising the right.
For those concerned about voter registration fraud, providing false information when registering to vote is a crime (and there is a notice on the form itself). The number of illegally registered voters is minuscule in reality.
Celebrate National Voter Registration Day next Tuesday by registering to vote yourself, or talking about the importance of voting with family and neighbors. Spread the word, and more people will see how important voting is to a strong America.
And while you’re registering to vote . . .
Becoming an organ donor is a personal decision. No one should intrude on a person’s right to decide to become an organ donor. We do, however, encourage people to learn more about the need for organ donors — especially in New York.
According to NY.gov, there are 8,500 people in New York state who need life-saving organ transplants. Just under half of adults 18 and older in the state are registered as organ donors. Some 3,400 New York patients received lifesaving organ transplants in 2022, according to SUNY.edu, and 1,002 New Yorkers donated last year.
Becoming an organ donor is your decision. If you wish to do so, the process is simple, and can be done at the state motor vehicle department — or while you register to vote. Take time to educate yourself about the need for more organ donors, and what you can do to help.