Voting Affects Policies That Affect You

By Annette Espinoza

The United States is undergoing dramatic economic, social and political change. With an African American President and a diverse set of nominees for the upcoming presidential election, it is evident that the U.S. is redefining history.

However, these changing times have not been resistant to injustice and discrimination. Our individual duty as United States citizens is ultimately to exercise our right to mold the social system our diverse communities need.

In the opening letter of the Voter Restoration Handbook, the Secretary of State, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, expressed the following:

“Voting is one of the most precious rights we have as Americans. Of course, it was not always that way. Over time, many people in our nation fought – and some gave their lives – for the cause of equal voting rights for all individuals. That tells us something about the power of the vote. Like all hard won rights, voting is something we should not treat lightly. It is a right we should respect, and it is a right we should exercise.”

Across the state of New Jersey, we have able citizens with unique experiences and circumstance. Yet, a growing wealth gap and statistical evidence show a small voter turnout from minority and lower middle-class populations. With this, we can see and continue to expect the under-representation of this community and misrepresentation of the American public.

Here is what you can do about it.Barbershop by Herman Shorty Rose

As a citizen, you must register to vote before you can cast a ballot. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, the registration the deadline for the Primar

y Election is 21 days before the official Election Day, which is set for Nov. 8, 2016.

The last four digits of your Social Security number or your New Jersey Driver’s License number are required for voter registration forms. If you do not possess either of these identifications, please write “NONE” on the form. According to MYMOVE online, the State will assign a number that will serve to identify you for voter registration purposes.

The following forms of identification will be accepted on the day that you cast your vote: driver’s license, student or job ID, military or other government ID, store membership ID or United States passport.

The American Liberties of N.J. states that you have the right to register at the address considered your primary address. If you are a college student, it can be a dorm, off-campus address or a home address. If you are experiencing homelessness, it can be a shelter, park or any place you usually stay (Section 6 Voter Registration)

Can someone register to vote if he or she has been charged with a crime, but not yet convicted?

Yes. According to the Voter Restoration Handbook, “any person who is a pre-trial detainee does not lose the right to vote while he or she is awaiting trial, even if the person is in jail. However, they cannot be serving a sentence, or on probation or parole as the result of a felony conviction. If this person is not in prison while his or her appeal is pending, he or she is eligible to register and vote.”

It is our civic responsibility to contribute to the nation that we are a part of. Voting and voicing your choice to elect who will be our representative is your most important duty as a U.S. citizen.

For more information on voting in the U.S., contact Voters Hotline at 1-800-792-VOTE.