Celebrate National Voter Registration Day by registering online to vote
By RYAN GORMAN
National Voter Registration Day is once again upon us, and the serves as an annual reminder that Americans have a privilege many others do not enjoy. But, it also serves as a reminder that voting is a privilege that many in the U.S. often fail to take advantage of.
Scotland's independence referendum this month saw participation rates in some counties over more than 90 percent, and just under 85 percent nationally - by contrast, only 54.87 percent of eligible Americans voted in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
Our Time is a non-profit organization working to increase those ranks among younger millennial Americans. The group was able to register more than 300,000 voters in 2012 but is now focused on registering another 250,000 for this year's midterm elections.
"We know the midterm elections are not as sexy, but they are just as important," Our Time co-founder Matthew Segal told AOL News.
Turnout is historically higher in presidential years than for local and state elections, but Segal insisted they are just as important because a deadlocked Congress cannot achieve anything and bills are often left on the operating table.
The best way to combat political gridlock, and apathy, is for more people to become engaged – and vote, says Segal.
Our Time has partnered with celebrities including Renee Zellweger, Usher, Steve Carell, George Takei and Nas to record public service announcements urging people to vote.
It has also partnered with a number of websites, including AOL News and Huffington Post, to embed the ability for anyone to register even from a news article.
A 2012 study found that voter turnout among younger people in California was increased by more than 10 percent solely because they were able to register to vote online.
Once registered, people are urged by Our Time to boast about it on social media. Our Time also has people take voting pledges that are then also posted online with a challenge to people friend's to also take the pledge.
Peer pressure from a single status posted across Facebook during the 2010 midterm elections was found to have led to more than 300,000 additional people to vote for congressional representatives, governors, or other local officials, a separate study found.
Our Time has already registered about 100,000 voters for this year's midterms. It aims to register about 250,000 by Election Day in November.
It is undeniable that the Scots set a remarkable example while voting no to independence. If the U.S. could even meet halfway between there and where American rates normally are it will be considered a huge victory.
"It does not matter who you vote for, just vote," says Segal.
National Voter Registration Day is September 23. See you at the polls.
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