As in all democracies, the right to vote in elections is a fundamental one in the United States Of America as well. However, contrary to other countries with a more centralized approach, the rules for exercising this right in the USA are incredibly complicated, and cumbersome to follow. First of all, you have to be registered to vote. The state does not register you when you become of a voting age, but you have to do it on your own. When you move you residence, you have to register again. If you declared that you vote for a given party, in its primary election, and change your mind, you have to register again. Rules change with each state, and vary depending of the type of election. Etc., etc. It sounds very complicated, and it is.
More than half of the visitors of the English version of this website come from the US, so I am addressing these. Please, register to vote, and please go, and vote for the coming general elections for the President.
Currently about 30%, or almost 60 million people of the total having right to vote are not registered.
All elections matter: they are the way people can concretely demonstrate with democratic tools their positions. But the forthcoming US Presidential elections matter even more in my opinion than others have in the past.
When I was recently in Los Angeles I had the chance to meet and chat with Linda Pollack, an artist and activist, who has an installation called Habeas Index downtown, and who is also active in asking people to register. I went with her in Chinatown to see what happens when people are confronted with the question “Are you registered to vote?”
It was a very interesting experience. From young couples who didn’t seem to care, to old Chinese men who’d smile but didn’t even speak English, or Latinos who appeared to be afraid of the question, there were all kinds of reactions. Linda was able to register several people that afternoon, and she is going to continue her drive up until the deadline of a month before the elections.
Take also a look at David Brin’s arguments for getting people to vote, and getting the ‘ostriches’ raise their head from the sand.