Are you a U.S. citizen or are you not

October 4, 2012 

There are three very important dates to remember. If you miss the first, Oct. 9, there’s no need to fret about the other two Oct. 15, when early voting begins and Nov. 6, the date of the General Election. Oct. 9 this coming Tuesday is the last day to register to vote.

The registration process is not tedious, you do need meet the following requirements:

• Be a citizen of the United States

• Be a legal resident of the county

• Be at least 17 1/2 years of age to register and 18 years of age to vote

• Not be serving a sentence for conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude

• Have not been found mentally incompetent by a judge

While there has been a lot of talk about the requirements to prove you are a citizen, you are not required in Georgia to have a Georgia Driver’s License, or Georgia ID or even a Social Security number to register. The registration form states “If you do not possess a GA Drivers License or Social Security number please check the appropriate box and a unique identifier will be provided for you.”

Voting is the one right every citizen should exercise. Unfortunately, Georgia has one of the worse records when it comes to voter turnout. Even in 2008 when a record number of voters went to the polls, the turnout was only 63 percent nationally according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Georgia’s turnout was 64.2 percent, far behind Minnesota (75 Percent) the District of Columbia (74.1 percent), New Hampshire and Maine (71.2 percent) and Louisiana (70.3 percent).

Registration is only the beginning of the process. Once registered, voters have to vote. Around the world we have seen new found freedoms of people long suppressed. We have had efforts in this country to suppress the vote among certain groups. Many of those in other countries, such as Iraq, recently risked their very lives to proudly show their ink-stained fingers. While the Arab Spring has been disconcerting to many in the West, people have stepped out from under the boot of oppression to voice their opinions on who will lead them. The United States is a mature republic -- maybe too mature. We have become complacent and apathetic. Candidates are spending billions of dollars to attract the attention, most times, of a minority of voters.

We’ve gone past the admonition that if you don’t vote you have no right to complain. Unfortunately the level of antagonistic discourse will come from those who voted and probably louder from those who did not.

-- The Editorial Board

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