Voter registration: how to and why you

Graphic: Courtesy of U.S. Government

By Cendri Johnson

Voting is important, but many people don’t do it, so last week on Thursday, Sept. 30, Gay Armsden and Cyndi Nash — members of the Seattle Branch of the American Association of University Women — hosted a voter registration event in the PUB. The AAUW is an organization that promotes equity for women and other social groups, while also encouraging all citizens to vote.

So what brought these two women to take time out of their everyday lives and try to get college kids to vote? Simply put, they believe in this country’s system of democracy, and were shocked a couple years ago after observing the record low voting turnout among young people. They were also perplexed by various issues around the country, but they knew that nothing would change if people didn’t make their voices heard by voting.

Armsden recommends voting for the main presidential candidate that is “closer to your ideals,” even if you don’t like either one. Both Armsden and Nash emphasized that, in this election, sitting out on a vote is still a vote.

“You may think that your one vote doesn’t matter but the votes add up,” Nash said.

You can think of it as basically giving a vote to the other side by withholding a vote. If you absolutely refuse to participate in the presidential election, Armsden and Nash encourage you to participate in local elections, which can also profoundly impact your life.

So what makes this election particularly important? There is obviously a litany of issues pressing on our country from both inside and out, but one job in the future president’s hands that you may not have thought about is the replacement of the Supreme Court justices.

Supreme Court justices are appointed by the president, and approved by the US Senate. Once these justices are in office, they’re in for life, as long as they remain on good behavior, according to the Constitution. Justices usually choose to step down when they reach old age or feel that they physically cannot perform their job adequately any longer. Currently, three of the eight Supreme Court justices are over the age of 77 and one seat remains empty.

This means that the next president could potentially appoint up to four new Supreme Court justices, which could dramatically shift the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court. So whoever the next president chooses for the court, we will have to deal with their attitudes and decisions for a long time.

One student who actually registered to vote at the event hosted by Armsden and Nash was Logan McGill. McGill believes that people should vote because “voting is a basic right provided to us by the US Constitution, and everyone should put their rights to good use.”

Coming from a multiracial household, McGill believes that lessening racial tensions and discrimination in our country is a must, and that this generation should not make the same mistakes as those who came before us. McGill claims that he is not on the fence about who he will vote for; according to him, “one candidate has more experience,” and focuses much more on articulating their points about the issues, while the other is relying more on bombastic language and playing the bully. McGill plans to definitely do some more research before watching the debates.

“My family and I have a tradition of watching the debates together,” he says.

Although his choice of candidate is unlikely to change, he still says that it’s “important to look at both sides”.

You can still register or change your mailing address online up until Oct.10 at myvote.wa.gov or vote.wa.gov, or you can mail in your registration until Oct. 11 or register in person until Oct. 31. Remember, if you’re 17 years old, you can still register to vote as long as you will be 18 on or before Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 8).

If you’re not sure of your eligibility to vote based on criminal history, you should register and let the state correct you if you’re ineligible. There are also several different languages that the registration form can be translated into on both websites, and if you need your ballot to be in another language, you should contact your county.

Voter registration forms will be available around campus including at the Student Leadership Center this week up until Tuesday, Oct. 11. Once you register to vote, you can vote in all the local elections for the city/county that you live in, as well as state and national elections.

If Armsden and Nash could mention one last thing, they would say that “a lot of people register to vote, but then don’t end up actually doing it.” So make sure vote!

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