I considered registering to vote to be a part of an important rite of passage and because of the stories my Southern, Depression-era father somberly told whenever the mood struck him, I took the entire process a little too seriously. I knew it was a drop in the bucket of electoral votes but I wanted to believe that my drop somehow mattered, that I mattered. I wanted to be a part of the process. I didn't think I had any right to bitch about the system if I didn't vote.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that for the powers that be to fight this hard to disenfranchise so many, voting must count for something. This is the epitome of institutional racism: that the white people who are in power would create laws that would make it as difficult as possible for the poor, the marginalized and people who are of color to vote. Every state is its own little kingdom, creating its own set of hoops and hurdles that everyone must unravel and traverse. It's extremely difficult have a voter registration drive in Texas. I have to show a birth certificate to register to vote in Kansas. If I lose my house in Florida -- and let's face it, everyone is losing their house in Florida! -- I lose my right to vote. Lots of people -- the elderly, for example -- don't have government issued photo IDs or a driver's license. And if I'm an ex-felon that's paid my debt to society and if I'm in Iowa, I am permanently disenfranchised. Is it a surprise that only 70% of those who are eligible have registered?
As an African-American that's two generations removed from slavery, I'm not big on state's rights. As far as I'm concerned, this is the part where the federal government should step in and regulate most of this stuff -- and that's not bloodly likely.
They're making it hard for us. Don't make it easy for them. Know your rights. Register to vote. And then, yes -- vote.
To register to vote online, click here.