For most people, participating in the American electoral process in 2016 has mostly meant scrolling through Facebook and getting angrier and angrier. Maybe you go to a rally, maybe you forward an email your uncle sends, maybe you have opinions that get you into ugly arguments at the bar, maybe you donate money, maybe you are even out there knocking on doors or calling from a phone bank—in which case this article isn't really for you.
But for the rest of you—the disinterested clickers, the passionate but only moderately informed, the outright lazy—consider this a friendly reminder: Please, please remember to register to vote.
The election is some 33 days away, but depending on where you live, the registration deadline may be approaching very, very quickly. Rock the Vote has a good list of state-by-state deadlines, but the ones that are coming up super fast are Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where the state has to receive your registration forms 30 days before the election, which means this Sunday. That's very soon!
The good news is that Alaska, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania all allow you to register online, so you can go to vote.gov and sort that out right now. In Ohio, a swing state that could very well decide the election, you have to go to the trouble of mailing in a form or registering in person. That's a hassle that makes it almost seem like state officials aren't all that committed to the idea of getting as many people as possible to vote. Imagine that!
Arizona, meanwhile, requires you have your form in by 29 days before the election, which is Monday. You can register to vote online in that state here.
A lot of other states only require that you send your form in 30 or 29 days before the election. Still, that deadline is rapidly approaching and not all of those states allow online registration—again, vote.gov can help you sort that out.
You might already be registered in your state, but if you've moved without updating your address with the appropriate authorities, you may need to do that before casting your ballot. Some places allow you do update your info or register the day you vote, which is great, and some places automatically register you when you get a license at the DMV, which is also great, but there's such a patchwork of policies across the US you probably want to check out this list of states that have adopted those sorts of reforms to see if yours in on the list.
If you're not sure whether you need to register to vote, maybe you should register right now.
A few states make it especially annoying to vote. Arkansas and Florida, for instance, don't allow people to register online or on election day and their deadlines are just days away. Florida, like Ohio, is a swing state in the presidential race, but even in non-swing states, there are local races are up for grabs. Which is to say, not registering because you think your state won't decide the electoral college is a dumb thing to do.
Of course, voting is not the only or most important way to be involved in government. There is a good case to be made that your vote won't count in any meaningful way. But not participating in a democratic election when so many people around the world would literally fight and die for that right just seems shitty. What are you going to do instead of voting? Watch Netflix? Eat a really big sandwich, then feel bad about yourself? C'mon.
Maybe you won't feel great about all the candidates you'll be voting for. Maybe you will end up deciding not to vote because you are protesting whatever. But don't let your own disorganization fuck up one of the few chances you'll have to officially indicate who you want to be running the country. Register to vote. It's not that hard.