The Adventure and Responsibility of Voter Registration

First published on Finding UnCommon Ground on October 10, 2012.

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My husband and I recently relocated to Kansas from Missouri for his job. Yesterday I went to the Driver’s License Office in Kansas to trade my Missouri license in for a Kansas license and register to vote in this November’s election.

There was a long line of people for a Tuesday.

I had to wait a while. Finally the moment came…

The entire process was relatively quick and painless. It cost me 30 minutes of my morning, $26 for the new license, and the bother of gathering all the possible paperwork the office may have needed.

A very small price to pay to make sure I’m registered to vote.

Kansas has one of the strictest¬†voter identification laws in the country. Some people complain about it. You have to show a photo ID at the polls. That’s just the way it is. And is that really too much to ask?

I empathize with the arguments against voter identification laws. There should be no cost associated with voting. Requiring an ID may be more of a hardship for some citizens than others. It can be a hassle. Government bureaucracy can be slow and inefficient. I get that.

But how can you live legally in this country without some form of government issued identification? How can you drive, work, pay taxes, collect social security, or buy cigarttes, alcohol, and certain medications without an ID? Yesterday I had in hand no fewer than four forms of government issued identification, plus utility and mortgage bills as proof of identity and residency.

Registering to vote and voting should not be made unduly difficult by the government. But neither should people be allowed to cheat and vote if they aren’t registered. Or, in my former city of St. Louis, if they aren’t alive.

Come on, people. As citizens, we must take some responsibility.

Find out what the laws are in your state. Follow the laws to make sure you’re registered to vote. Find out where your polls are. On election day, go to those polls to vote. Take your Certificate of Registration and your identification with you. Show some initiative. If there ever was a time to over prepare, this is it. Make it happen.

Don’t know where to go or what to do? Google or call the election board in your state or county. Do it now. Yesterday was the last day in 26 states to register for this November’s election, and time’s ticking for the other 24.

Make sure elderly or disabled relatives, neighbors, or others in your care are all set to vote. Without complaining, help them get their registration and identification in order. Drive them to the polls if they need you to do that.

Can’t make it to the polls on November 6th? Contact your election board office to get an absentee ballot. There are provisions in place to make voting as easy as possible for you.

Voting is a right and a privilege. We have four weeks until the election. Show the value of your vote by making sure you’re prepared today.

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