It’s late January. The temperatures are frigid, and the snow is flying. You know what that means – it’s time to get ready to vote!
Now, I can hear your collective groans, and a voice shouting from the back, “The election isn’t until November!” But bear with me. There has never been a better time than now to be ready to vote.
For starters, not every election is in November. For most Nebraskans, the nearest election is in May, when the primary elections for everything from a party’s nominee for president to county commissioner are on the ballot. Additionally, votes over levies and bonds can appear at any time, such as the one Lincoln will vote on in February or the one voted on by communities in northern Nebraska. You may not always see the advertisements, but it is almost always election season.
Second, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you may have noticed that we are in the swing of a presidential election season where the winner is far from certain. Already, if you’re worried that you may not be able to reach the polls on primary Election Day (or you just don’t want to interact with other people on that day) you can submit your request for an absentee ballot to make sure that a ballot will be mailed to you. If you still like the idea of voting in person but don’t want to vote when everyone else does, you can vote at your county courthouse a whole month before the election. There’s no excuse for you to not get that ballot in.
Now, there is a handful of you who don’t mind that I brought up elections but are worried because you’ve never registered to vote or have moved since the last time you voted. One day, perhaps, Nebraska will join the 18 other states and D.C. that automatically register you to vote once you become eligible.
Nevertheless, it has still never been easier in our state to register to vote or to update your registration.
If you have a driver’s license or state ID, you can easily access the state’s online voter registration system and quickly register to vote or update your voter information (like political party, address, etc.). Even if you don’t have an ID, you can still fill out an old-fashioned paper form and submit it to your county election office (whose address is on the form!). If you’re registering for the first time, you will also have to submit some government form that proves where you live. This can be something as simple as your electric bill.
So don’t let the cold get you down! As we prepare for another round of elections, now is the best time to make sure that you are registered to vote and that your information is up to date. Even now, you fill out your form to make sure a ballot will be sent to you – so you, too, can participate in our democratic process. It has never been easier to register and to vote in our state. Wintertime is the right time to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.
Jordan Martin teaches social studies to seventh- through twelfth-graders at Wilber-Clatonia Public Schools. He also moonlights as an assistant one-act drama coach in the fall and a speech judge in the spring. In his spare time, he enjoys ping-pong, video games, and traveling. For more Civic Nebraska Writers Group columns, click here.