Are you registered to vote in November? Are your friends and family? Do you know where your polling place is? With just over 40 days till Election Day 2012, the deadlines for voter registration and absentee ballots are fast approaching. It’s even more important this year to be properly registered and, unfortunately, depending on the state, to make sure you have the correct photo ID when you show up to the polls.
Your vote does count. Consider some recent voter stats from previous elections. During the 2008 election, voter turnout increased by 5 million people. Women vote at a higher rate than men, 66 percent to 62 percent, respectively. Additionally, voters 18-24 were the only age group to show a statistically significant increase in turnout, reaching 49 percent in 2008 compared with 47 percent in 2004. African-Americans had the highest turnout rate among 18-24 year old voters–55 percent, an 8 percent increase from 2004. The increased turnout among certain demographic groups was offset by stagnant or decreased turnout among other groups.
In the 2010 election cycle, people who came out to vote for the President in 2008 stayed home. Retrograde tea party candidates, who are anti-choice and deny that a pay gap exists and are generally anti- equality of all stripes were elected to both chambers of Congress.
The message from the data is clear. When women and minority voters don’t show up on Election Day, our voices are lost nationally from the office of the President down the ticket to our state representatives and local city and town officials. Our issues lose. As an example, EMILY’s List has a great round up of the Republican War on Women from January 2011-July 2012. If women and minority voters are registered and we show up to our polling places or cast an absentee ballot, President Obama wins a second term.
Polls have shown Mitt Romney draws support from the affluent and white men. In the past, that would be enough to win an election. But the days of the “Southern Strategy” are coming to an end. Even Republican strategist admit that 2012 may be the last presidential cycle where they can shamelessly pander to the white male voter.
Make no mistake, despite the gaffes and major missteps by Governor Romney and his campaign, election 2012 will be close. And outrageous voter ID laws are in effect in many states to specifically repress the vote of traditionally Democratic leaning voters. Indeed, Pennsylvania Republican legislator Mike Turzai was infamously caught on video declaring at a Republican state committee meeting in June that Pennsylvania’s new and hastily put together voter ID law–which is thankfully being reviewed by the Commonwealth Court per a ruling from PA’s supreme court–would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania” and it 20 electoral votes. Between 100,000 and 500,000 Pennsylvanians may be disenfranchised in a state that has voted for the Democratic Presidential candidate in the past five elections. Additionally, women face an additional burden to vote in PA as well. Married or divorced women who have changed their name must present two forms of identification: the state voter ID issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation AND a separate government-issued ID or driver’s license!
We know the stakes are high this election year. You know how you are going to vote, and your friends probably know how they are voting as well. Now it’s a matter of getting out the vote and arriving at our polling place. If you’ve recently moved, or didn’t vote in your last local or state election, make sure you are still registered and ask your friends to double-check their status as well. That can be as simple as a phone call or email the election division in your city or town. If you have a car, start a car pool and ask people if they need rides to the polls on Election Day. If you are able, consider taking election day off of work or school to make phone calls on behalf of Democratic campaigns to people who are registered by have not yet cast their ballot on Election Day.
Our voters are out there, it’s up to us to make sure we are registered and show up!