By Hannah McKelvey
Did you know, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, only about 46 percent of Americans 18-29 voted in the 2016 presidential election? That means that either 38.6 percent of Americans could not vote, did not register, or simply didn’t vote at all. Did you?
“Not voting is signaling to politicians that they can do whatever they want because they will not be checked in any way,” said professor of political science Patricia Siplon.
With the 2020 election quickly approaching along with all the other elections in between, here are a few simple ways to get registered to vote or get an absentee ballot.
There are a couple of different ways to register to vote. “You can register in person by paper, you can register online at the secretary of state’s website, and that information will get filtered down to the town that you’re registering in,” said Wanda Morin, assistant clerk at the town of Colchester. Vermont also has same-day voter registration, which means all you have to do is find a polling location in your town, go, register to vote, and then you can vote right away on sight.
For people who are not interested in registering to vote in the state of Vermont, there are easy ways to register in your own state. “Vote.org is a website that tells you how to register to vote and also request an absentee ballot form for every single state,” said Abby French, a senior at St. Michael’s, who did canvassing work for Get Out the Vote. “So, they tell you the requirements for your state; it will give you the address for the city hall in your town that you need to send everything to, it will also tell you if you cannot register to vote online.”
When it comes to registering to vote prior to election day in Vermont with your St. Michael’s College address, head to the Colchester Town Clerk’s office (781 Blakely Rd, Colchester, VT) to pick up a piece of paper with detailed instructions on how to register and where to send in your forms. Or go online to the Vermont Secretary of State website, click on the Election tab, then click registration in the left column, then click the Register to Vote tab, and then follow along with the steps to register to vote in Vermont.
Not every state allows you to register to vote or request your absentee ballot online. In New Hampshire, for example, you have to do it at your city hall in person a certain amount of time before the election, which is a way to decrease voter turnout for young people who are in college. It also might be a way to keep New Hampshire a swing state. Swing states are those states that change from democratic majority to republican majority with almost every election. It is important to figure out where your vote will matter most; if you live in a swing state, it might be more beneficial to vote there rather than another state that always stays to one political side.
Don’t forget that after you vote, your civic duty does not stop there! “Voting is a really important first step,” Siplon said. “Following up when the person is in office and letting them know that you like or don’t like what they are doing is how you make that vote more meaningful.”