Last Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day. Did you know that? Don’t feel bad, most people didn’t.

National Voter Registration Day is a day dedicated to celebrating our democracy. It was first observed in 2012 and has been growing in popularity every year since. Held on the fourth Tuesday of September, National Voter Registration Day will take place on September 24, 2019. The holiday has been endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS). It is further supported by the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED).

The informational website developed on behalf of the annual celebration includes a lot of interesting voter-friendly links including one that provides detailed information about registering to vote in Iowa. Did you know it’s possible to register to vote online? Check it out.

So, why the push to drive voter registration?

Well, for starters, let me ask you a question. Are you satisfied with the way your local, state and national government is working? Of course the answer is “yes” to local (thanks for that), but in many cases, people are generally (and genuinely) fed up with politicians in Des Moines and Washington.

This isn’t anything new. In fact, citizen disgust with politicians is a time-honored tradition going back thousands of years. But that’s a blog post for another day.

Today, in 2018, if you’re not happy with how things are going in your neighborhood, state or country, there’s only one way you can affect change as a citizen.

Vote.

it’s interesting to note that voter dissatisfaction has been very high for the last two decades, but voter turnout has gone down.

Instead, it seems people are venting their frustration on social media. Posting rants, memes, pictures and links to news stories that reinforce their anger. Websites like Twitter and Facebook have given people a voice to express their frustration.

There’s just one problem. You can express your frustration with this politician or that; one political party or the other. But nothing gets politicians and their parties to change as dramatically as the threat of unemployment. And that power lies in the ballot box, not social media.

Some people will probably ask: “What’s the upside of more people registering and participating in our democracy? Isn’t it crazy enough the way it is right now?”

Interestingly enough, the more people involved in decision-making via the ballot box – the broader the cross-section of the country actually working to make their voices heard – the less likely the elected politicians are to hold extreme points of view. Large numbers tend to average out and moderate.

And that’s a key factor to your “discontent” with government that you need to recognize.

The fact is political consultants and politicians have figured out that the harder it is for people to participate in voting, the less likely they are to do it and the fewer number of votes it will take to get elected. That means politicians with extreme ideas (either on the right or the left) can assume power in a government by mobilizing a small faction of voters who will actively engage themselves in the voter registration and election process.

Keep that in mind when you spend a little time thinking about the registering and voting in this November’s election. Your voice needs to be heard – whether it’s in support of one party or another. And make sure your family, neighbors and friends register and participate so their voice can be heard, too (even if you don’t always agree with them).

The more people actively participate in our democracy, the healthier our nation will be.

Thanks.

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