By Sheila Gilmore
Culberson County Republican Party Chair
As the political playoffs draw near, it is important to remember that in order to participate, you must be a registered voter. The deadline to register this year is February 1st , 2016.
Who can register to vote? If you have turned 18 years old as of February 1st, 2016, then you can register to vote. You also must be an American citizen and a resident of the state and county in which you would like to vote. Even if you are still attending High School, you can register to vote.
How do I register? The easiest way to register here in Culberson County is to go to the County Court House. Any of the girls in the Clerk’s office or the Tax office will be glad to help you. It is SO easy! If you would prefer to register from the comfort of your own home, you can go to www.votetexas.gov and follow the instructions.
Can I vote in the March 1st Primary Election if I’m not registered to vote? If you don’t register to vote by February 1st, you will not be able to vote in the election.
Do I have to register with a particular party? In Texas, you DO NOT need to register a particular party affiliation. If you are registered, you can vote in either Democrat or Republican Primary – but NOT both.
Why should I register to vote, especially for a Primary Election? Statistically, only about 25% of all registered voters vote in a Primary Election. Here in Culberson County that percentage is only 10%. So, fewer voters than ever vote in a Primary. That means that those who actually vote in a Party Primary Election have more say in who becomes President (or Judge, or Congressman, etc.) than any other voting body. By the time the General Election (our political Super Bowl so to speak) comes around in November, those who voted in the Primaries have already chosen who will appear on the Ballot. Therefore, if you are registered to vote and vote in the Primaries on March 1st, you vote holds more weight and you become one of the few who choose who the rest can vote for in November.
When I register to vote, does this mean that I’ll be called for Jury Duty? It means that your name is put in the “pool” of citizens qualified to serve as jurors…and, yes, you might be summoned for Jury Duty. However, there are many exemptions (such as if you care for a child under 12 or if you are over 70 or if you attend school full time) and if you qualify, you won’t have to serve. And because we live in a small county, opportunities to serve on a Jury are few and far between. In other words, the idea that you might be asked to serve on a Jury is a poor excuse to not register to vote.
The United States is an exceptional nation. Over the last 250 years, we have survived and prospered because of our system of government. With all its flaws, it is still the best in the world. Many young men and women have fought and died so that we could vote and so that other peoples could have a right to vote, too. Please make the effort to register to vote and then cast your ballot when the time comes.