Do Your Part: Vote!
September 17, 2012
Laura Reyes, Secretary-Treasurer of AFSCME
Imagine. The year was 1988. You just turned 18. We had endured eight years of union-busting and attacks on workers from the White House. The stakes were high for working families, almost as high as they are today. The American people had an important decision to make. They could choose a champion of workers or they could choose more of the same, maybe even worse–George H.W. Bush.
For months, we heard the campaigns and the candidate’s debate about foreign policy, the environment, the economy and more. When Nov. 8 rolled around, you were educated. You had made up your mind, and you were ready to vote. But then you realized that you hadn’t registered. You couldn’t make your voice heard.
And Bush was elected.
Registering to vote is the first step to raising our voice, to taking responsibility for our part in making this country happen. New York has one of the lowest registration rates in the country with just 64 percent of its eligible voters registered.
This year, that could change. While corporate-backed politicians in many states are working to make registering harder for students, seniors and communities of color, a new program that makes registering easier for everyone was just green lighted. Now, New Yorkers with a driver’s license or non-driver ID can register to vote or change party affiliations online at the state Department of Motor Vehicle’s MyDMV website.
But registering is only the first step. Once you register, you have to get out there and vote. Like New York’s voter registration rate, the state’s voter turnout rate during the last few election cycles was among the lowest in the country. In fact, in the 2010 elections, New York came in dead last with only 40 percent of registered voters heading to the polls.
Now, this isn’t to say that New York voters don’t know what’s at stake. You do. You know what a Mitt Romney Presidency would mean for New Yorkers. You know that Romney plans to gut Medicaid and Medicare, programs that low-income and senior communities rely on. You know that Romney plans to cut the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program and repeal the Affordable Care Act, taking food away from hungry kids and health care away from working families, while giving handouts to corporations and the wealthy. You know that Romney is no friend to working families, much less our union families.
We’ve got to take what we know to the polls, and make the best decisions we can on Nov. 6. We can’t wake up to that nightmare scenario of 1988. We must make our voices heard.
So, let’s all do our part. Let’s register. Let’s vote.