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Registration Deadlines Loom

Posted: 09/27/2012 4:53 pm

Americans can do more than elect a president this fall -- they can also prove some politicians will not succeed in suppressing the voices of American citizens. Some lawmakers are betting the obstacles they have put in place will keep millions of eligible Americans from registering and voting this November. But we still have a couple of weeks left to upend their assumptions. That's when voter registration deadlines will be reached in most states.

And that's why groups like ours, the Voter Participation Center (VPC) and our partners, NAACP, the National Council of La Raza and other civic engagement groups are using a wide range of traditional and new tools -- from direct mail and music videos to smart phone apps -- to help as many qualified voters as possible register before the deadline in their states. This year the work of groups likes ours is more than helpful -- it is essential.

The VPC, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, runs the nation's largest direct mail voter registration program. With our partners, we have helped more than 750,000 Americans register this election season. Since its founding in 2004, the VPC has helped nearly two million U.S. citizens register to vote or update their registrations. And, last Sunday, the VPC released the L.O.V.E. Voting music video featuring Fergie and other hit artists encouraging women -- and all Americans -- to register and vote. The message is simple: Get registered and get to the polls on November 6 and let your voice be heard.

Another new and powerful device that can help Americans determine if they are registered, register and report voter intimidation is a smartphone app from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Association of Latino Appointed and Elected Officials Education Fund, New Organizing Institute, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation. Their Election Protection Smartphone Application, available in English and Spanish at www.866OurVote.org, lets people check their registration status and registration deadlines, download a registration application, find the location of their polling place or report a problem at their polling place.

Finally, it's not just restrictive new laws, but an aging and outdated voting system that is bedeviling voters this year. Our failure to modernize our voting registration system could keep millions of qualified voters from participating. The nation's voting system largely reflects its 19th-century origins and has not kept pace with advancing technology or an increasingly mobile society.

Bottom line: It should be easier, not harder, for qualified Americans to fulfill the promise of an America where everyone counts equally and every voice is heard. But until every state has an updated, modernized voting registration system and impediments to the participation of eligible citizens are removed, civic engagement groups like the League of Women Voters, NAACP and the VPC will remain more necessary than ever. So if you are one of the 73 million Americans who are still unregistered, reach out to one of these groups -- they'll help you get it done -- and, in the bargain, stick it the politicians.

 

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