How do you register?
“We don’t want it to be an onerous burdensome event,” says Myrna Pérez, director of voting rights and elections on the Brennan Center for Justice.
She explains that you can fill out a voter registration kind that you shall be ready to discover on-line by way of your secretary of state’s workplace or your native election workplace. “Some states allow you to register online, which means you never have to fill out a paper form,” she says. “Some government offices like post offices or the library will have paper forms that you can fill out.”
Prospective voters must also examine if you dwell in a state with Election Day registration, which suggests you can register that very day.
What are among the challenges to voter registration?
Pérez emphasizes that registering to vote shouldn’t be taken without any consideration.
“I think we need to start off with the fact that this country has professed a right to vote, but through too much of our history, we have put barriers in front of the ballot box or affirmatively made it impossible for certain people to register and participate,” she says.
In truth, this step in our electoral course of has a protracted, and at instances darkish, historical past. And that historical past can assist us perceive a few of as we speak’s voter registration points.
In 1776, John Adams wrote a letter stating that giving voting rights to sure teams of individuals was a “dangerous” concept. For virtually 100 years, solely White males with property have been allowed to vote.
As populations grew, polling officers had hassle determining who had the best to vote, so in 1800, Massachusetts turned the primary state to require voters to register.
However, new registration legal guidelines have been launched to hold different folks out. In 1898, Louisiana modified its guidelines to block former slaves and their descendants from registering to vote.
Across the South, literacy assessments have been a part of the registration course of, as a method of intimidating Black folks, immigrants and people with out monetary means. In almost a dozen southern states, folks had to pay to register to vote — a course of generally known as ballot taxes.
Rules like this persevered all through the Jim Crow period till 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was handed to prohibit voting discrimination.
However, even as we speak, voting rights activists warn of continued obstacles to registration like proof of citizenship necessities. Meanwhile, there are residents with previous legal convictions who’re unable to take part.
Will the pandemic have an effect on your capacity to register to vote?
“The pandemic has laid bare many of the cracks in our election system,” in accordance to Pérez.
With so many relocations related to Covid-19, many are discovering themselves unexpectedly having to replace their voter registration data. Pérez factors out that many states have residency necessities that require residents to have lived within the space for a sure time frame earlier than they’re eligible to vote there. DMVs, which have lengthy been related to voter registration, might provide restricted hours or have lengthy strains.
However, Pérez is hopeful. “We are a strong people,” she says. “We are people that believe in our fundamental right to vote and trying to make sure that our democracy is inclusive.”