Registering to vote seems easy, right? Right?! This isn’t the 60s anymore. Gone are the poll taxes and grandfather clauses that hemmed up our people. Now, you just fill out a form and — boom! Enfranchised!
What if that wasn’t the case though? Story time!
I moved to Atlanta from Brooklyn in August. One of the first things I did when I got here was register to vote. I called up the trusty old Secretary of State website, filled out my form, **printed it out**, found a stamp and mailed it off to the office just like the form said I should. I double checked the spelling on the address just to be sure. Nothing can stop me, I’m all the way up!
Not so fast, friend.
Months later, I’m still refreshing my registration on the Secretary of State website trying to see where my brand new voting precinct is located. I’m not sure if y’all heard but 2018 is kind of a big deal. Lots of things are on the table, our communities are in crisis, and I, for one, don’t want to be left out of the conversation. When it comes to funding Black futures, I need to sign my name on the dotted line. But after all that waiting, I was still unregistered. How, Sway??
I picked up the phone and called the Fulton County registrar’s office to ask about my registration. I was told that sending my registration form to the main Secretary of State office for processing was a big mistake. The process could take months and months given the size of the state and the number of registrations they had to sift through. The person I spoke with on the phone said a much easier process was for me to send my registration directly to the county office. He gave me an email address and a link and assured me it would all be resolved quickly.
But– is this voter suppression??
The reality is, It doesn’t have to be as startling and direct as someone physically blocking your entry to a polling place or being forcibly removed from a building. (Although that also happens all the time!)
Voter suppression looks like this too. It looks like “random” purges of voter rolls, indecipherable and unachievable voter ID requirements, and a plethora of other small and meaningful ways that folks are discouraged from full participation in the process.
So, wait– are you registered to vote? Ahem, are you sure? Did you recently move or have a change in status? It only takes a second to check. Here’s a link to help you out: www.vote.org. The first step to getting involved is to know where you stand.
Keep your head up!