Ronald Reagan called the right to vote “the crown jewel of American liberties.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt said that the only way to deprive the American people of the right to vote was by Americans choosing not to vote. Winston Churchill told the House of Commons in 1944 that “no amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance” of the single vote.
As America gets ready for Election Day in a little more than a month, the importance of voting cannot be stressed enough.
Sept. 27 is National Voter Registration Day. In our modern society, it seems every day is a “National Something Day,” but this one is different and very important. It is an important reminder that in order to vote on Nov. 8, citizens must meet their state’s registration and ballot deadlines. And those deadlines are fast approaching.
There are more than 200 million eligible voters in the United States, but the number that participates is far lower. In a 2012 study, the Pew Center on the States found that 1 in 4 eligible citizens is not on the voter rolls.
Every state has different rules and deadlines. Most states have registration deadlines around the middle of October. And in many states, to register you have to mail in forms or appear in person. Only 31 states allow online registration.
Absentee ballots must be turned in before Election Day in all states. For instance, in Texas, they must be received by Oct. 28 and in Rhode Island, the deadline is Oct. 18.
The American Bar Association is dedicated to helping every citizen learn what’s required to vote. That’s why the ABA has created a website at voteyourvoicenow.org that includes an interactive map of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories with information about registration deadlines, absentee ballot material and laws about identification needed at the polls.
The website also contains information about laws that provide time off to vote and accessibility for voters with disabilities. The site has resources for lawyers as well, encouraging them to get involved in their communities and get people to vote.
The American Bar Association, which represents more than 400,000 lawyers, judges and law students, believes that voting is an essential civic duty that forms the foundation of the rule of law. It is the chance for every American’s voice to be heard.
The American Bar Association remains completely nonpartisan. It does not endorse candidates or contribute to candidates or PACs. But the ABA believes that lawyers have a basic obligation to support voting, which is the cornerstone of our democracy.
The first step toward voting on Nov. 8 is making sure you know all the rules and deadlines beforehand. Make sure you are registered and have what is required to cast your ballot on Election Day.
The turnout for the 2012 U.S. elections was only 58 percent of eligible voters. As a nation, we should do much better. We can do much better.
Linda A. Klein is president of the American Bar Association. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.