During his presidency, Abraham Lincoln preached the importance of the government being of, for, and by the people. He argued that voters played the most important role in making sure the government reflected their desires and functioned according to the guidelines of the Constitution.
Despite Lincoln’s appeal to the public, it can be argued that many people today fail to appreciate or acknowledge their role in shaping the government. As U.S. citizens, people maintain these four important responsibilities as eligible voters.
Registering to Vote
Most notably, people’s most important responsibility as citizens involves registering to vote. If they are legal U.S. citizens, 18 years of age or older, and have no felony convictions on their record, people are eligible to vote in local, state, and federal elections. Registering to vote can be done online or in person. The process of becoming a registered voter is simple and can be taken care of in a matter of minutes.
Voting in Elections
Once they are registered to vote, people should then make every effort to vote in local, state, and federal elections. Many people dismiss this responsibility by saying that they do not care about the issues on the ballot or that they are unfamiliar with the candidates up for election. However, by failing to use their privilege to vote, people essentially allow other voters to make decisions for them, to let their voices be heard over voters who make no effort go to the polls. This is one of the primary reasons why you need to vote!
The outcomes of elections can impact voters’ personal freedoms, taxes, and other aspects of daily life that they take for granted. Because of the far reaching impact that an election can have, people have the duty to cast their vote if they want a say in how their futures play out.
Casting Absentee Votes
People who have a legitimate reason for not making it to the polls can still cast their vote by requesting an absentee ballot. The ballot can be mailed to them or they can cast an absentee vote in person at their local election office. Despite not being able to vote on Election Day, they can still make sure that their voice is heard and that they make use of their voting privilege.
Updating Personal Information Regularly
State and federal election laws can change at a moment’s notice, so it is important for people to keep their voting information updated as needed. If they move or want to change their party affiliation, for example, they should update this information well before the next election takes place.
They should also stay up-to-date about the location of their polling place. The locations of polling places change regularly. A school, church, or business that was utilized as a polling place during the last election may not be used again for the next. Voters can find out their polling places online or by contacting their local election office.
Voters play a central role in shaping the government and their very futures. They can satisfy their duty as voters by observing these four important responsibilities.