EDITORIAL NOTE: This blog post was written by our intern, Anne Richard
I grew up in an opinionated family where political activism and awareness were always highly encouraged. My parents’ shared love of politics brought them together (they met volunteering on a campaign), and they passed that passion on to me and my siblings. They explained what was on the news every night, taught us about the voting process and talked us through the key issues of every election. In my house, voting was not just a right, but an honor.
My parents’ message stuck with me. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized not everybody felt the same drive and responsibility to vote. My early exposure to the democratic process came with the privilege of being born to financially secure, well-educated parents who had the time and knowledge to impart such knowledge; it took me a long time to understand how lucky I was. When the 2012 presidential election rolled around, I was stunned by how many friends of mine decided they weren’t going to bother because they didn’t think they could make a difference or they didn’t know how to get an absentee ballot.
It wasn’t until I began my internship here at the League of Women Voters that I realized it was more than an apathy issue, but also an education issue. I’ve spent a lot of time researching election information for voter guides and it is incredibly eye-opening to see firsthand how difficult it can be for individuals to find information about voting. Finding the crucial deadlines and learning what’s on the ballot—not just high-profile federal electoral races, but also the local elections that have a direct, immediate impact on voters’ lives—can be extremely difficult; state government websites can be hard to navigate, and aren’t always consistently updated. And as some anti-voter laws are implemented around the country, voting becomes more complicated and less accessible. The League tirelessly fights to ensure voters’ rights are upheld, and works to ensure voters have the information they need when election and voting laws change.
Many more people would register to vote and show up on Election Day if they knew exactly what to do and what was at stake. Luckily, the League is on the case. The Leagues’ online elections website VOTE411.org is an incredible resource for both first-time and seasoned voters; it’s comprehensive, non-partisan and easy to use—exactly what people need to feel prepared to vote.
It is a true privilege to work with an organization that empowers so many people to affect change in their lives, community, country, and world. I know that I plan to share VOTE411.org with my friends and family to ensure that they have the information they need in the lead-up to the upcoming elections.
Election Day 2016 is coming! Now is the time to remind the people in your life to visit VOTE411.org to register to vote, make sure that their voter registration record is up-to-date and learn about important voting rules and deadlines in their state. With your help, we’re Making Democracy Work®!