The presidential election is coming up this November. This is an exciting time for many young adults, as this will be our first presidential election. But, if you’re anything like me, you might have a few questions about the registration process. How does a person register to vote? Where do you register, at what time, and what documents do you need?
The good news is, it’s a lot simpler than you might think!
Voting is essential to democracy. It is the key to ensuring that those elected represent the people and act in the people’s best interests. With this in mind, it is vital that this presidential election, we all take a stand and vote.
But citizens’ responsibility extends beyond voting in presidential elections. Voting for community leaders, such as mayors and city councilors, is also of great importance. Local leaders create policies, utilize city budgets, and act as the head of cities.
Despite this, a Portland State University study looked at 10 of America’s 30 largest cities and found that fewer than 15% of eligible voters were turning out to vote for local leaders. The median age of the voters was 57, and city residents 65 and older were 15 times more likely to vote than residents aged 18-34. In other words, in local elections, young voters are not too common. Perhaps our generation can change this.
Without further ado, here are five things to know that make it easy to register to vote!
1. You must be a citizen and an Arkansas Resident. And you have to be at least 18!
To register in Arkansas, you must be a U.S. citizen and an Arkansas resident. You must also be 18 or at least, you must turn 18 on or before the next election. You must not be a convicted felon whose sentence has not been discharged or pardoned, and you must not be presently adjudged as mentally incompetent as to your ability to vote by a court of competent jurisdiction.
2. You have to fill out a paper Voter Registration Application.
Complete your registration by filling out a paper Voter Registration Application. The Arkansas Secretary of State website includes a list of places you can get one. Or, you can download it online (English / Spanish).
On the application, you will need to provide either your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number (or check the box in #9 if you do not have either).
3. Submit the form at least 30 days before you vote! (You can drop it off at the Saline County Clerk’s Office).
To vote in the next election, you have to submit your application to an official voter registration agency or mail it at least 30 days prior. If you mail the form, it should be postmarked by that date. You can also drop it off at the Saline County Clerk’s Office (215 North Main Street, Suite 9 in Benton) by that date. More information about deadlines can be found at the Arkansas Secretary of State website.
Once your local county clerk has processed your Voter Registration Application (this could take several weeks), you will receive your voter registration card in the mail. Once you receive your card, you can be sure that you’re registered to vote!
It is time for our generation to find our voice. It is vital to the well-being of our communities that every age-group is heard, and that the youth steps up to take action. We are the leaders of tomorrow, and we should elect the change we want to see, not just in our country, but in our communities. So let’s get out and vote!
Anna Colby is a high school senior. She enjoys consuming ungodly amounts of green tea and banging her head on her desk until a new idea pops into her mind and she can write once again. She also enjoys petting her dog. See a list of all her columns at www.mysaline.com/anna.