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October 31, 2012

“Are you registered to vote?”

by Heather
Israel tight crop

By Israel Avila, Tulsa League Intern

This is the question that many of us asked hundreds and hundreds of strangers during the months of September and October. It is hard to believe that eligible citizens are not already registered.

And I do understand that many people have become disillusioned and cynical about our political system. But what this society has forgotten is that we live in a democracy. Because we the people are the government and that our government reflects our society. So we must hold our politicians and leaders accountable by being part of the conversation. And if we can do that by going out to vote because otherwise we leave others to decide our fate and direction in our daily lives.

I was shocked by the amount of misinformation that people gather from unreliable and misleading organizations. It is crucial for the League and its partners to reach these new voters and educate them with nonpartisan information and clear many misconceptions that they may have.

People trust the League of Women Voters to provide the most accurate and reliable information about the issues that matter the most.

Ali Canada helping a new citizen register to vote

I encountered many excuses and reason why they simply do not vote. Some individuals would try to explain to me that they just don’t care about politics.  Others would try to tell me that their vote simply does not matter. This excuse was irritating to say the least.

I would reply to them with “One person, one vote, one voice.”

“One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.” – President Obama

Our first time voter registration project was a huge success. Lynn Rivers is an incredible asset not only to the League but also to the community. Her energy and passion is inspiring.

The League helped registered 476 citizens to vote–252 of those are first time voters and over half of those new first time voters signed our pledge card – opting in to be reminded about Election Day. We clocked in 165.75 volunteer hours.

Israel helping a new citizen register to vote

The League decided to concentrate with this project in helping the underrepresented in the electorate by reaching out to them. By helping them registered and finally giving a voice to the people who need it the most. By attending naturalization ceremonies, I was able to see first hand the excitement of new citizens to be part of our democratic process.

In every event, we manage to educate and inform voters on issues. We distributed literature for those who have previously registered, handing out constitutions and information about the state’s six questions that will be on the ballot.

With all the great work, each of us put into this we managed to receive great publicity. The League of Women Voters managed to make it on the front page of the Tulsa World. We had tons of free radio coverage for our National Voter Registration Day events partnered with the YWCA.

I believe the work that The League of Women Voters is doing is incredible. I am very happy to have been part of this great initiative that encouraged citizens to be active in our democracy.

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