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 which you could fill out a voter registration type that it is possible for you to to seek out 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 also needs to examine if you happen to reside in a state with Election Day registration, which implies you’ll be able to 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 reality, this step in our electoral course of has an extended, and at occasions darkish, historical past. And that historical past may also help us perceive a few of right now’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 nearly 100 years, solely White males with property had been allowed to vote.
As populations grew, polling officers had bother determining who had the correct to vote, so in 1800, Massachusetts turned the primary state to require voters to register.
However, new registration legal guidelines had been launched to maintain different folks out. In 1898, Louisiana modified its guidelines to dam former slaves and their descendants from registering to vote.
Across the South, literacy checks had been a part of the registration course of, as a method of intimidating Black folks, immigrants and people with out monetary means. In practically a dozen southern states, folks needed to pay to register to vote — a course of often known as ballot taxes.
Rules like this continued all through the Jim Crow period till 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was handed to ban voting discrimination.
However, even right now, 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 means to register to vote?
“The pandemic has laid bare many of the cracks in our election system,” in response 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 period earlier than they’re eligible to vote there. DMVs, which have lengthy been related to voter registration, could 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.”