This Tuesday, September 23, 2014 has been designated “National Voter Registration Day” throughout the United States of America. The designation went into effect in 2012 with the passage of a five-year resolution that proclaimed the fourth Tuesday of September National Voter Registration Day by the National Association of Secretaries of State, a non-profit, non-partisan organization composed of the nation's chief state election officials.
National Voter Registration Day first started during the last presidential election to raise awareness of registration deadlines and the requirements for the general election in November of that year. Since its inception the designation has become a 50-state holiday where thousands of organizations and volunteers organize across the country to ensure families, friends, and neighborhoods are registered to vote.
Women Suffrage Movement
Harris & Ewing Collection - Library of Congress
It presents an excellent opportunity for someone just turning 18 to go ahead and register now, or if someone recently moved, changed their name, had their voting rights restored under the law, or need to update their registration information or wish to switch their party affiliation. Now is a good time to get it done and out the way so you can cast your ballot in ease during the upcoming November general election.
The freedom to register and exercise our right to vote is too important of a matter to let complacency or apathy cause us to take it for granted. For if we allow such to impede us from taking part in this basis fundamental right to choose our elected leadership and encourage others to do the same, than we will soon learn that someone else will have made the choice for us.
Most daunting is the fact that there was a time during the growth and development of this great nation where some were deliberately enjoined from taking part in the voting process because of their race, color, creed, sex, national origin and status.
|Civil Rights Movement - Foundation for the National Archives|
History tells us of a time during the early 19th century where many states were concerned with the growing number of foreign-born transients participating in local government, so they passed laws to ensure that those non-citizens couldn't vote. While the laws were successful in excluding the non-citizens, many poor White citizens were also not included on the voter rolls.
In addition, White Women in this country gradually achieved the right to vote during the late 19th and early 20th century and then only at the local and state levels. They were denied the vote on the federal level until the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was subsequently enacted because of the relentless Women Suffrage Movement. The amendment provided that the right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state because of sex.
|Poll Tax Receipt - Foster Family Genealogy History|
Although the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave African-Americans the right to vote; near the beginning of the 20th century, specifically in the South, laws were designed and passed requiring Blacks to pay a poll tax or submit a voting application in order to register to vote. It wasn't until the height of the Civil Right Movement and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which essentially provided enforcement of the 15th Amendment that Blacks in America were granted unfettered access to the voting booth.
Regardless of these facts that many demographics were systematically denied the right to register and vote throughout the history of this nation and the struggle by many, their blood lost and sacrifice of their dignity and life to guarantee that all could freely take part in the constitutionally guaranteed process of choosing our elected leadership through the vote; yet during the 2012 National Presidential Election a dismal 129,085,403 out of the 235,248,000 voting age population bothered to cast a ballot.
National Voter Registration Day raises our awareness to these issues and gives each of us an opportunity to do better and we should by ensuring that at least one person that we know of that haven’t registered to vote do so and by making certain that person have a ride if needed to the polls to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice.