Staff Editorial: It’s sooner than you think: Get registered for the primaries

Although it may seem like we were all just waiting hours in line to vote in the 2018 midterm elections, the 2020 Democratic primaries are almost upon us. Here in Missouri, the primary will take place on March 10, and voters must be registered by Feb. 12. However, it’s important that you don’t wait until the last minute to get this done.

41.8% of Washington University students voted in the 2018 midterm elections. Although this number was higher than the national campus average of 39.1%, we can, and must, do better. And the first step toward increasing our turnout in November is getting involved with the process in the primaries. With such a heated election coming up, it’s vital that Wash. U. students make their voices heard by engaging in our democracy through its most fundamental civic duty: voting. Although the current political environment, the looming threat of climate change and divided Democratic field make it easy to feel apathetic and hopeless, you do have the power to make change with this election.

Unfortunately, this year’s primary may pose some complications for students. Since the Missouri date occurs during spring break, many Wash. U. students registered in the state will not be here. If this applies to you, or if you vote in another state but will not be there for its primary, make sure to request an absentee ballot once you’re registered. This request and registration in general can easily be done through sites such as vote.org. Make sure to get those ballot applications mailed in early, as states have different deadlines for doing so. In Missouri, absentee ballot applications are due by mail 13 days before the election or one day before in person.

Even if you’re registered and don’t have to vote absentee, your work isn’t done yet. Take less than two minutes to go online and check that you are, in fact, still registered. Recently, concerns over “voter purging”—county officials removing large amounts of voters from the voter rolls— have risen. The Brennan Center for Justice reported in August 2019 that 17 million people were removed from the rolls between 2016 and 2018. It’s quick and easy to check your registration on vote.org, so make sure that you’re ready to go.

Another great resource right here on campus is the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, which works tirelessly to inform and provide resources to the student body, offering programs and initiatives related to politics, education and leadership. Leading up to the 2016 election, the Institute was able to register 3,608 Wash. U. students over a three-month period.

The Gephardt Institute also offered a fast and painless way to register at wustl.turbovote.org. If you have any questions about the voting process, the Institute is located at Stix International House on Forsyth Boulevard and is also reachable by email or phone.

Although March 10 may seem far away, the next couple of months will fly by, so make sure to stay aware of deadlines and get all the information you need to be prepared before the big day.

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