Service of Registering to Vote

September 27th, 2018

Categories: Participation, Vote


I can’t remember noticing as many efforts to register people to vote–from so many quarters–as I now do.

September 25 was “National Voter Registration Day,” an initiative that’s six years old but it’s the first time I’ve heard of it. According to Facebook, when I last looked, 2,247,846 reported that they’d helped friends to register on TurboVote.


In addition to Facebook, even before the national day, links and reminders have also popped up on Twitter, Instagram and Google for starters. A few weeks ago I went to a screening, sponsored by AARP, of the documentary “Love, Gilda,” about Gilda Radner. At the registration desk in the movie house lobby we were asked to sign a promise-to-register-to-vote sheet. I saw a poster on the exit door of a grocery store upstate last weekend. The Alumnae for Action committee of a NYC private school—Brearley– sponsored a voter registration postcard writing event, coordinated by the League of Women Voters.


Our citizens have been lackadaisical voters. According to, 40 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots for midterm elections and in recent years, 60 percent for national elections. Drew Desilver, Pew Research Center, wrote “U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout.” He reported that we’re 26th of 32 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Belgium**ranks first at 87 percent followed by Sweden and Denmark, 82.6 percent and 80 percent, respectively. Switzerland, the last, comes in at 39 percent. **Desilver reported that Belgium is one of 24 nations with “some form of compulsory voting.”

Has the effort to register people to vote been as vigorous in other years? Do you think that these recent registrants will remember—or bother–to vote on November 6? Do you vote even if you aren’t enamored with the choices? In addition to legitimate reasons such as a last minute illness, unexpected travel or horrendous weather conditions where a write-in ballot is no longer an option, why do you think people don’t vote?



4 Responses to “Service of Registering to Vote”

  1. Protius Said:

    The subject of the extent to which the governed should have a say in how they should be governed and by whom surely has been around since before the first caveman found a cave for himself, his family and friends. If you were to add up the shelf space in our libraries devoted to this subject, you would probably have mileage to take you around the world and back. What I might think about the subject amounts to no more than an unnoticeable drop of water by comparison.

    However, I do think it worthwhile to suggest that the better educated, more sophisticated, better informed an electorate is, the more likely it is that it will in the long run chose better managers to lead it. Conversely, the more ignorant, the less likely…

    Ever since the 1960s and the Kennedy inspired de-emphasis of liberal arts and civics in school curriculums in favor of the sciences, and the Johnson inspired dumbing down of educational standards in basic education to achieve worthy social engineering goals, our general population seems to have had a diminished interest in the political process. The gradual abandonment of the written word for the lazy charm of the electronic image as a consequence of the increasing manipulating dominance of television, the internet and the web by a dominant few, complicates and worsens the problem.

    Therefore, it may well be that today’s voter lacks the competence, in comparison, say, to the 1950s’ voter, to choose leadership wisely. This might also explain why we now find ourselves suffering under the Caligula-like leadership of someone like Donald Trump. It could be that if we were to run around and register a lot of new voters we would only make matters worse, not better.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Who knows whether more voters would improve or worsen things but I think it’s worth a try. The way we are now headed, without change, they can’t be worse. Those who vote and their leaders are digging their heels in so deeply that we are going nowhere but down. We are desperate for some grownups in the room.

    Admittedly the young people I know are statistically insignificant yet they appear to be engaged and politically aware, those who work in IT included.

    I know a lot of smart, educated people who vote knee-jerk for one or another party and simply can’t check the box or click the lever for anyone of a different party. And I know some who might but who fear that to do so today would be an endorsement of the current administration which they cannot fathom.

    While my first thought is, as you suggest, that an educated citizenship makes for smarter voters, I wonder, sometimes, if this is true across the board. On the cheery side, I also know plenty of people who have been forced to change their vote and have crossed the aisle and I salute them for having the strength and vision to do so.

  3. Martha Takayama Said:

    I always vote even though I may be less than enthusiastic about my choices. I feel t it is my obligation.

    I never cease to be frustrated and even angry at people who say they never vote. Sometimes they say it won’t make a difference, or that they are not interested. Others say they just don’t have time.

    The only explanation that I cannot question is a religious one. There are people whose religion does not permit them to vote. Some countries make Sunday their Election Day and others make it illegal not to vote. Both concepts would seem worthy of consideration. It is ridiculous to complain about elected officials if you do not bother to vote.

    It does seem more people are being successfully encouraged to register and vote. We are living through a nightmarish political era and voting seems the only or the best way to ameliorate the situation!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree–I can’t complain if I’ve not shared my ten cents worth at the polling booth!

    Another excuse, in NY at least, is “I don’t want to register to vote because I’ll be called for jury duty.” That’s another civic duty that is irritating when it falls at a bad time but is necessary.

    For those who don’t have time there’s the write-in ballot.

    Trouble with voting on Sunday is that there are religions that don’t permit such an activity either and with some you’d be competing with their golf game or their football watching time. Remember one of my favorite movies “Chariots of Fire?” One of the runners couldn’t compete on a Sunday because of his religion.

    I have so much hope for the November election at the same time as so much apprehension and downright fear. And I am not sure that those who are registering for the first time will remember to vote.

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