The year 2012 is significant in a number of ways, one reason being that it is an election year. On Nov. 6, American citizens will once again decide who will govern their nation for another four years. This being the case, it is important to register to vote in order to be heard in the government. The deadline to register for the primary election was Monday, June 9, but the deadline for the general election is Oct. 8. There is still time to register.
The freedom to vote has reigned in the United States since its conception. The Constitution explains that the people of the United States can elect their representatives, senators and presidents. Later, as slavery was abolished, the Fifteenth Amendment forbade the government to deny a citizen the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude [such as slavery].” As women’s suffrage began in the early 1900s, the Nineteenth Amendment was finally ratified in 1920, which stated that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
Finally, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 clearly stated that states could not impose any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure…on account of race or color.” This stopped Southern states from forbidding African Americans to vote based on insignificant qualifications such as literacy.
To register in Washington State, an individual must meet five requirements. He or she must be a citizen of the United States, a legal resident of Washington State, at least 18 years old by Election Day, not under the authority of the Department of Corrections and not disqualified due to a court order. When “under the authority of the Department of Corrections,” an individual may be in prison and may not vote.
In 2011, the Washington Secretary of State office counted 1,082,929 registered voters in King County and 384,165 registered voters in Snohomish County. In King County, only 52.11 percent of these individuals voted on the general elections; in Snohomish, the number was 52.09 percent. In Washington State, over three million people are registered voters, yet only half of them actually voted last year.
“I always believe that ultimately, if people are paying attention, then we get good government and good leadership. And when we get lazy as a democracy and civically start taking shortcuts, then it results in bad government and politics,” said President Barack Obama, in an interview with MSNBC on Sept. 35, 2006.
With elections coming closer and closer, the time to register is fast approaching. Registering can be done by going to http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/default.aspx. Individuals can also fill out a voter registration form at any driver licensing office.