Sinead here – VPIRG’s new Democracy Associate. In case you hadn’t heard, this Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day! This holiday was first observed in 2012, exactly a decade ago. A lot of things have changed in that time: attacks on voter accessibility, claims that elections have been ‘rigged’ or ‘stolen,’ and countless communities disproportionately being left out of the political process. Through it all, days like today have been recognized to support and celebrate the bedrock of our democracy – the right to vote.
Our democracy works best when everyone participates, and National Voter Registration Day helps us reach that goal. Today’s holiday aims to help avoid people missing voter registration deadlines, provides clarity on how to register, and stresses the importance of updating voter registration. In fact, according to the National Voter Registration Day website, nearly 4.7 million people have registered to vote on this holiday alone!
I feel especially compelled by this National Voter Registration Day because I am in my second week as one of VPIRG’s newest fellows, with my work being focused primarily on our Democracy program. Voter registration and active voter participation are near and dear to my heart, but more on that later. Today, I urge you to please register to vote if you haven’t already, or if you’ve recently moved to Vermont. If you’ve already registered, make sure to check that your information is up to date because every active registered voter will be automatically mailed a general election ballot this year, thanks in part to VPIRG’s advocacy for the policy in 2021. These actions can be done at mvp.vermont.gov, or by contacting your local town clerk. If you know a friend, a family member, or someone who will be 18 years old by November 8th that is not registered to vote, make sure they get registered. The most powerful messenger for political change is you.
Voter accessibility is especially exciting for me. When I was a kid, I watched my dad get naturalized as an American citizen after immigrating from Ireland. When I was in the fourth grade, we both learned about American history—me by way of the school curriculum and him through studying for his citizenship test. He cast his first vote for the Presidential election in 2008 right when the polls opened in the early hours of the morning. I got older, went to UVM, and found countless ways to get involved, helping with voter registration drives both on and off campus. At VPIRG, I am so excited to dive deep into our work with Ranked Choice Voting, encouraging more grassroots donations to political campaigns, and strengthening Vermont’s campaign finance laws—all ways to keep strengthening our democracy by making it more responsive to and reflective of ordinary Vermonters.
Vermont is one of the most voter-friendly states in the nation. Thanks to pro-voter, pro-democracy initiatives like same-day voter registration, automatic voter registration, universally-mailed ballots, ballot curing, and more. VPIRG has been there, advocating and organizing around these efforts, every step of the way. But make no mistake, there is so much more that needs to be done. Stay tuned for more on our efforts to bring Ranked Choice Voting to statewide elections and ban corporate campaign contributions.
To learn more about our efforts with Ranked Choice Voting, visit www.betterballotvermont.org