Voting for Change
Do you want marijuana legalized? Are you registered to Vote?
Look, this is not complicated. If you want politicians to listen to you, you have to be registered to vote and you have to vote on election day.
Everybody knows by now that most marijuana users are young adults, and also that most young adults support marijuana's legalization whether they use it or not. The problem, politically, is that young people aren't registered to vote and/or young adults don't vote.
Young voters overwhelmingly supported Proposition 19 in California – it was approved by 64 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 24, and 52 percent of voters between the ages of 25 and 39. Prop. 19 was also approved by 69 percent of liberals and 56 percent of Democrats. Certainly supporters of legalization in California will work hard to broaden the appeal of the next legalization proposal they bring before the voters. However, it is clear that young voters will play an important role in increasing the number of votes for legalization in California the next time it is on the ballot.
But what's also clear is that young liberal voters support marijuana's legalization. Politicians running for office, or seeking re-election, are starting to realize that they can win the votes of young voters through support for legalization and other marijuana reform proposals.
So, it's simple, the more young adults who are registered to vote, the more votes they can supply on election day, and, consequentially, the more interest they will create among politicians for marijuana's legalization. If you want marijuana legalized, you have to register to vote, get your friends registered to vote, and vote on election day – every election day, whether there is a marijuana proposal on the ballot or not. The more you vote, the more influence you have when you tell your elected representatives to support marijuana law reform.
There are many, many good reasons to vote. It's good citizenship. It preserves our democratic freedoms. It helps bring about solutions to longstanding social and economic problems. Voting promotes social and economic justice. And all that is fine and good and provides ample reasons to participate in the process. But there is a more important reason to vote, and it's why most people do it: Self-interest. If you want something from the political process, voting is the way to get it. It's the only way to get it.
So, if you want to see marijuana legalized, register to vote. Now. Today. This week. Get this done. Find out how easy it is, tell all your friends, and get them to register to vote. And then convince them to get all their friends to register as well. Don't wait for the next election. Do it now. It's easy. Here's all you need to know in order to register to vote today.
How to Register to Vote:
Visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles and register to vote. It's that simple. Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in 1993 to make it easier for citizens to register to vote and participate in elections. Go to the DMV, fill out the form, and you're done.
You can also register by mail. Project Vote Smart and Project Vote are two public interest groups that can help by directing you to the appropriate state agencies and provide background about state procedures and policies.
Contact Project Vote Smart. They will provide you with complete information about voting in your state, instructions on how to register online or in person, and contact information for your state's Secretary of State. Just go to their Web site and access their information on voter registration.
Project Vote is dedicated to increasing public participation in elections. Their mission is “to empower, educate, and mobilize low-income, minority, youth, and other marginalized and under-represented voters.” They also provide direct access to information about voter registration through CredoMobile, a cell-phone provider that supports progressive causes.
There are two ways CredoMobile can help you register to vote. The first option is to contact the Secretary of State in your state of residence and get information about voter registration. CredoMobile will provide you with contact information for your Secretary of State, including their Web site. Credo Mobile also provides an online service for you to fill out a voter registration form online. When you complete the form, they provide you with a downloadable copy and mailing instructions to file the form in your state of residence. All you have to do is fill out the online form, download the completed form, and mail it in. (If you use this option they will try to interest you in their commercial services.)
Register now. Send this column to all your friends. Ask them if they want marijuana legalized and if they are registered to vote? If they are, congratulate them and ask them to encourage others to register. If they are not registered to vote, tell them how easy it is.
This is important. This is mandatory. This is the way to win. Register now!
Jon Gettman is a long time contributor to HIGH TIMES. A former National Director of NORML, Jon has a Ph.D. in public policy and regional economic development and consults with attorneys, advocates, and non-profits on cannabis related research and public policy issues. On October 8, 2002, along with a coalition of organizations, he filed a new petition to have cannabis rescheduled under federal law. This column will track that petition's progress.