Check Your Voter Registration – Don’t Risk Losing Your Voice
A friend of mine posted a note on Facebook five months ago regarding voter registration. She said that it’s very important to check your registration, and of course, make sure you have a valid ID with the correct address. I was quite perplexed. She was sending this in August of a “non-election year”. So I queried her, and her response really gave me pause.
There are always elections. Every year, every month, there could be an election. People die and have to be replaced. There are run-offs in some states. You never know when it will happen and it’s important to be prepared.
All states check their registration lists regularly. A registration list is used, not only to check names during voting but also, hopefully, to anticipate the number of people who will vote at a specific location and provide appropriate staffing and booths. Legitimate reasons to check the list include removing people who have died, or people who have moved.
Unfortunately, there is a major effort underway to identify “dubious” voters and get them off the voter registration lists for additional reasons. For example, in some states, if you haven’t voted in a while, you can be removed. Just for *not voting*. Next, some states will not permit ex-felons to vote, while other states have a waiting period. If you’ve been convicted of a felony, or know someone who has, it’s important to know the laws of your state. A strange problem is when two people have the same name: one of them can be dropped from the rolls because fraud is suspected. I happen to know that there are two other people with my name in the state of Maryland, and one of them has a criminal record. It has caused some interesting problems during background checks.
These reasons for removing people used to be illegal under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. To the shame of the US Supreme Court, the Act was struck down in 2013, because, according to the Court, it was no longer needed. The original purpose of the Voting Rights Act was to ban literacy tests and poll taxes which disproportionately prevented people of color and poor people from voting. After 2013, it was obvious that such methods were too obvious, but to demonstrate just how important the Voting Rights Act had been, Republican-leaning states, especially in the South, immediately began instituting laws that would reduce the number of people eligible to vote, both with restrictive voter ID laws which disenfranchise people of color and young voters at a disproportionate rate – people who are likely to vote Democrat, and by removing people from the registration lists for an expanded list of reasons.
It is very easy to see if you are still registered. The website “Rock the Vote” pulls in all of the state lists, which are required by law to be available by computer, so that you can check your status. And if you have been removed, you can re-register. Here is the website: https://www.rockthevote.org/.
Please check now, in anticipation of the 2024 primaries. Don’t let anyone take away your right to vote.