Motorists Vote 2020: Advocacy Starts at the Ballot Box: NMA Weekly E-Newsletter #607

For the first time, the NMA has developed a national guide for voting called, appropriately enough, Motorists Vote 2020. The confirming (and most important) step in any advocacy effort is signified by the casting a vote in local, state, and national elections. If you don’t have time to write letters to the editor or visit with elected leaders about the issues most important to you, voting for the candidates and initiatives consistent with your views becomes even more critical.

For this year’s election, we encourage everyone to decide soon how they will vote on November 3rd due to complications caused by the pandemic. If you decide to vote by mail, ask for your ballot early and make sure you vote according to the rules. Timing will be everything, particularly with potential postal service issues, so either mail your ballot well ahead of Election Day or consider delivering it yourself to a designated drop off locations.

For example, here in Wisconsin, we are required to have an adult independently verify each mail-in ballot for it to be valid. The witness must sign his/her name on the outside envelope, signifying the integrity of the ballot inside. Then, as in most places, the ballot needs to be at the county or city election office by the deadline. Get out the Vote volunteers who can help with questions, serve as ballot witnesses, and help with voter registrations are sometimes available at public libraries and other government buildings. Check with your city or town clerk for details.

If you have never voted before or have let your voter registration lapse, registering to vote is the first step. All states and the District of Columbia require voter registration except for North Dakota, where eligible residents can vote with suitable personal identification.

Voter registration generally takes place at the city or county level. In 17 states and DC, voters may register the day of the election. The rest of the states require registration ranging two to four weeks before election day.

Check out the Motorists Vote 2020 Guide to link to your state’s voting information.

Voter Registration History and the Driver’s License 

In 1993, Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which allows states to provide citizens the opportunity to register when applying for or renewing a driver’s license. This often is referred to as “motor-voter.”

According to the US Election Assistance Commission, approximately 25 million motor voter registrations, originated at state departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) during the 2016 election period. In many states, the collection of voter information has been shifting from paper-based to digital registration forms. Many DMV systems are linked to state voter registration databases.

In 2016, Oregon became the first state to implement automatic voter registration or AVR. As of April 2020, 19 states and the District of Columbia DMVs participate in AVR.

We have posed some questions in the Motorists Vote 2020 Guide that you can use to build your own candidate report card on motorists’ right issues.

Voting is the most important democratic act any citizen can do.

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