When I was running for office, I connected with voters the old-fashioned way: I mailed letters, telling people about my qualifications and asking them to consider voting for me. I also sent stamped postcards asking people to return them if they would volunteer or donate to my campaign. Generally, it was an effective technique.

One drawback, though, was that the voter list, the one I obtained through the County Clerk’s office, contained many inaccuracies. I discovered some of these when I saw names of people I knew who were then deceased, and the names of other people I knew, but whose addresses were for some reason – perhaps a move – incorrect. I discovered more inaccuracies when I got back undeliverable mail – oftentimes more of those than those lovely little postcards. 

Fortunately, things are a little easier these days – the internet, you know – and Nick La Strada, our current County Clerk, and his office staff use the tools at their disposal to try to update the voter list. But the responsibility of keeping the voter list current rests on the people themselves, the people who will make choices about who runs this city, this county, this state, and this country.

Obviously, many people don’t think about their voter registration until it’s too late – when they are standing at the polling place they used to go to and are trying to cast a ballot, only to discover they are no longer appropriately registered and will not have their voices counted in that particular election. Voting, however, is much too important a responsibility to leave registration until the last minute. 

Voting laws have been in flux, and therefore confusing, over the past few years in Missouri – the legislature has passed laws, the Missouri Supreme Court has declared that some parts of those laws are invalid, this is required, that is required, and on and on. Additionally, many people have reasonably lost confidence in the voting process itself. The Russian interference in 2016 and the brouhaha over the recent Iowa caucus are two examples. But here is what I know. Your vote is your voice, and if you don’t exercise that responsibility, other people will have the opportunity to determine who runs the government while you sit back and let them.

The Missouri primary election is March 10. In order to choose a candidate for President from your political party, you have until Feb. 12 to register to vote if you are not currently registered or to check your registration and make sure it is correct. That’s less than a week, people. And to complicate matters, the Courthouse will be closed on Feb. 12 for Lincoln’s birthday. 

So get on it. Go to the clerk’s office on the second floor of the Courthouse and bring some form of identification and register or correct your registration. Or register online. Here is the link:  s1.sos.mo.gov/elections/voterregistration.  

You can also download a registration application on pettisclerk.com.

If you have questions about where you should vote, or what you should bring when you vote, ask someone in the clerk’s office. If you think you can no longer vote because you have been convicted of a crime, you may be wrong. You can restore your right to vote as long as you are no longer on probation or parole. 

Voting is the most precious responsibility given to us by the Constitution.  More than 100 million people avoided that responsibility in 2016 (https://wapo.st/38lctpO). That means that little more than half of eligible voters chose the direction of this country, while the others chose to let someone else decide. Register. Vote.

A bit of self-promotion: Next weekend, Scott Holloway and I will appear in “Love Letters” at the Hayden Liberty Center. Both Scott and I have wanted to do this play together for years, and Carl Hutcherson has been waiting for a long time to direct it. It is a touching look at two people in love – though they don’t know it – through the letters they write to each other all through their lives. Hope to see you next Thursday or Friday nights at 7:30, or Sunday afternoon at 2. You will, well, love it.

 

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