It's that time of year again. When everybody is getting deluged with television ads, campaign signs and rants from their friends on Facebook. It can only mean that Election Day is drawing close. And it can all seem quite overwhelming at times to those who don't follow politics closely. They pick up the paper and read of donors to super-PACS giving tens of millions of dollars and it's hard not to get discouraged and think that the political process is not for them.
But that's the great thing about America: We're still the leading democracy in the world and the longest running democracy on the planet. And on Election Day, everyone is equal. Young or old, rich or poor, we all get one vote. And together, with all the other voters in America, we are the voice of the American people. In the end, it is our voices that matters most.
But unfortunately, at least 51 million Americans are in danger of not having their voice heard, and that is because they are not registered to vote. With 51 million Americans not speaking up, not having their voice heard, the voice of the people is not as loud as it should be.
There are a lot of reasons that people don't register to vote. Some think their vote doesn't matter. Others, that it's too confusing. Still others just forget or get too busy. But everyone's voice does matter. Don't like the job Obama is doing? Let him know. Not happy with Romney's policies? Have your say. And it's not just national policies that are affected. Everything from your local school policy to property taxes to state constitutional amendments are decided on Election Day. And everyone's voices should be heard in those decisions.
Unfortunately, voting is not always free, fair and accessible. Politicians and special interest groups are trying to make it harder to vote, even for eligible voters. In states such as Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, politicians have tried to manipulate the system by putting unfair voting laws in place because they don't like what their constituents have to say. Everyone who can vote needs to be provided with the same freedom and opportunities. No one, especially not our elected officials, should be trying to take away that right.
So if you think you're vote doesn't matter, think again. By voting, you join your family, friends, colleagues and fellow citizens in helping to strengthen your country and community. It's something that brings us together as Americans.
Too busy? Remember, voting is not only a right, it's a civic duty. As a democracy, our nation is only as good as the voice of our people, and that voice needs to be complete.
And for those who think it's too confusing, it doesn't have to be. You just need to register, find out where to vote, and show up on Election Day with the right identification. It's that easy. The Brennan Center's voting guide is a good resource that compiles this information in one place. The Center also put together a voting rights PSA encouraging Americans to register.
Time is running out. Voter registration deadlines are rapidly approaching and you must be registered to have your vote among those counted on November 6th.
Follow Erik Opsal on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BrennanCenter