By Jacqueline Jedrych
In the first US presidential election, George Washington won all 69 electoral votes available. However, his constituents were only white, landowning men who were not fully representative of the real American population, which included women, non-landowning men, slaves, children, and indigenous Americans. Since then, suffrage has expanded with the 18th and 19th amendments, allowing black men and women to vote. However, people still faced obstacles to voting, such as poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and residency requirements. In an effort to increase voter registration, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also called the “Motor Voter Act,” allowed an opportunity to register to vote at the same time as renewing or applying for a driver’s license.
Voter registration exists today to protect against voter fraud, but many view it in the same lens as the antiquated policies that aimed to exclude minorities from the voting population. It requires either an application, either on paper or online, which requires time and in some cases, an internet connection that many don’t have. In addition, a number of people don’t have a usable photo ID or have been disenfranchised due to felony convictions.
Voter registration is important to many people from all political parties.
“When we vote, we are active in the process of our democracy – and voting, even though it is a right, has never been an easy battle,” said College Democrats Vice President Regina Brennan. “We have to remember that our ancestors have marched, fought, won, and immigrated to vote. Using our voice is a right, but it is one we must remain active in to ensure it and keep our democracy safe.”
“There’s no reason for any eligible American citizen not to vote,” said College Republicans President Micheal Klein. “It is important that we maintain election integrity and begin implementing voter identification laws.”
Voter registration, the most important part of political involvement, is important to the duration of democracy.
“Voter registration matters because our democracy only works when more people are represented and capable of saying what matters to them,” said Thomas Gambino, President of College Democrats. “The best way to get involved in politics is to vote. You can knock doors, donate, and March, but ultimately the most important thing is that you go out and vote.”
Voting is an issue that is very important to the duration of democracy in America. Voting is a right that has been earned by the blood and sacrifice of the people who came before us. Generations of people have fought for, and will continue to fight for, the right to vote for all citizens.