If you haven’t registered to vote, please stop reading, click here to find out how to register where you live. If you have registered, please read on for some reasons why you should encourage people you know to register as well.
Democracy rests on the consent of the governed. Consent is expressed through voting. And voting starts with registration. Regardless of your views, the very act of registering means you have skin in the game. It means you care enough about the direction of the country to not let others speak for you.
Labels are not motivating factors in voter registration. For many years, national trends in party affiliation among registered voters indicate a roughly one-third split among Democrat, Republican and non-affiliated, with a small edge for unaffiliated. While independent and non-affiliated voters often lean toward one of the two major parties, these registration figures indicate that the majority of Americans continue to signal that they primarily want elected officials to come up with solutions and deliver results. If they thought one party had a lock on common sense, centrist solutions, there wouldn’t be so many unaffiliated voters.
Off-year elections tend to have lower turnout than presidential election years. In 2022, however, a 50-50 U.S. Senate and a razor-thin Democratic majority in the U.S. House have raised the stakes. The results will set the stage for 2024. At the same time, regardless of which party controls which chamber, the next two years will test whether those elected can deliver on so-called kitchen table issues most Americans care about or prepare for another possible showdown where unpopular candidates and extremists in both parties dominate the debate.
Two thirds of registered voters cast ballots in 2020, the biggest turnout in 120 years. At the same time, even in a year with profound consequences some 80 million Americans opted not to vote. According to a poll commissioned by NPR and the Medill School of Journalism, 30 percent of these non-voters cited not being registered as the reason.
There might be a “chicken-egg” scenario for some of these voters. If politics wasn’t dominated by loudest partisans and if candidates felt more pressure to work across the aisle and be accountable to voters instead of party leaders, more people would register and vote.
In 2022, Americans should register and vote in record numbers, thereby sending a signal that they are engaged and want solutions. That would show those vying for office in 2024 that there is more to the electorate than partisan activists with agendas outside the mainstream. If office seekers fail to get the message in 2022, registered voters can look for alternatives in 2024. But first, they must register to vote.