Register To Vote—Now?

Register To Vote—Now?
April 09
09:00 2021

By Howard Pearre

“A Republic … if you can keep it,” said Benjamin Franklin when someone in the Philadelphia crowd shouted out asking what the founding fathers had created.

Last November, millions of Americans did their part and We, The People, kept our republic. The Grand Experiment in democracy was tested, and in spite of a violent mob’s attack on the Capitol on January 6, Joseph R. Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. 

The 159 million citizens who voted, including more than 5.5 million North Carolinians, helped choose a new path for the country.

In less than two years, the Grand Experiment will be tested again. After spring primaries that are scheduled for March 8, 2022 (less than a year from now), every congressional seat in the country, including 13 in North Carolina (or possibly 14, depending on 2020 Census apportionment) and one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats, will be on the line. Citizens will flock to the polls or mail in witnessed ballots. 

The country will choose either to continue moving forward or to reverse its direction; however, only citizens who are registered will be able to have a say about that direction. We need only look back to 2016 to see the disastrous consequences of an unwise choice. 

If you voted in 2020, you probably are registered to vote in 2022. Even so, now is a good time to check your registration status to be sure. There is no reason to doubt the integrity of our state and county elections boards and processes based on their performance in 2020, but individual voters still have ultimate responsibility to assure their registrations are valid and accurate.  

If you did not vote in 2020, have moved, or changed your name, now CERTAINLY is the time to check your status while there still is plenty of time to take corrective action. Even a move across the hall in an apartment building could mean trouble if your registration does not reflect the new address. It is also a good time to check with family members, neighbors, and friends at church, work, or school to spread the word about checking their registrations. During the 2020 election, much was said about voting being suppressed, particularly for targeted groups. Powerful interests throughout the country tried mightily to do exactly that. Many of these strategies failed, but only because determined citizens persisted and demanded to fulfill their duties and privileges to vote. Sadly, however, many citizens played into the hands of those interests and voluntarily suppressed their own votes by failing to register and/or cast their ballots.

The campaign to suppress voting in the 2022 election is gaining steam in state legislatures throughout the country. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp recently signed into law a bill that allows county boards to eliminate Sunday voting (read: “Souls To The Polls”) and makes it illegal to provide food and water to voters who have to stand in line to vote, sometimes for hours. If you think the same could not happen in North Carolina, you’ve not been paying attention.Will we keep our republic? You will get to decide, but only if you are registered to vote!

Howard Pearre retired from N.C. Vocational Rehabilitation and the Department of Veterans Affairs. He is a former precinct chief judge with Forsyth County Board of Elections and has provided voter registration training sessions. He is a member of the Winston-Salem Writers.  

To see if your status is ACTIVE, do a Google search for NC VOTER LOOKUP, select VOTER SEARCH/VOTER TOOLS, enter your first and last names and your county, and select SEARCH. If you are not listed as ACTIVE, go to the state board of elections website at NCSBE.GOV and click on the REGISTERING tab at the top. Select the appropriate box (such as HOW TO REGISTER) and follow the directions to print out a registration form. 

You also can contact the Forsyth Board of Elections at 336-703-2800 to request that a registration form be mailed to you. 

To check the accuracy of your registration, click on your name. The next screen click on VOTER DETAILS to see if your address, voting precinct, and other information is correct. If your address or other information has changed, you can use the registration form to make updates so you can vote at the correct polling place for the correct slate of candidates.

You can mail in a signed voter registration form to Forsyth County Board of Elections, 201 N. Chestnut Street, Winston Salem, NC 27101, or bring the form to the Board of Elections at the same address, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 

If you have an active N.C. driver’s license, you can use the Division of Motor Vehicles website to update your voter registration or even register for the first time. Do a Google search for REGISTER TO VOTE NC ONLINE and follow the links to use this free service. You can also access this service through the NCSBE.GOV site and HOW TO REGISTER link.

The deadline to register to vote in North Carolina is 25 days before the date of a primary or general election.

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