National Voter Registration Day has been celebrated on the fourth Tuesday of every September since it was first observed in 2012. It falls on September 24 this year. The holiday was established in order to bring awareness to the registration process through a coordinated field campaign so that every voter who wants to vote has that opportunity. Volunteers and organizations all over the country will be out and about to register as many people as possible. According to the National Voter Registration Day website, there were over 800,000 voters registered in a single day nationwide in 2018. One of the stated goals for National Voter Registration Day is for it to be “a day of civic unity … an opportunity to set aside differences and celebrate democracy and the rights and opportunities we all share as Americans.”
Millions of voters don’t realize that they need to register or re-register or even how to go about doing so. In case you were wondering, yes, you can find registration cards at the library. At the Columbia Public Library, they are located at the Welcome Desk just as you enter the library or at the Reference desk on the second floor. You can find them in Fulton at the Reference Desk. To find out if you are registered to vote, Boone County voters must contact the Boone County Clerk’s Office at 573-886-4295. For other Missouri voters, you can check the voter lookup portal at the Missouri Secretary of State’s.
So many people have struggled and given so much for us to have the opportunity and right to vote. “Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait?: Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, and the Fight for the Right to Vote” by Tina Cassidy tells about how Paul was essentially a thorn in Wilson’s side from the very day he took office. Paul was arrested, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, suffered through hunger strikes and nearly died for her conviction that women should be allowed the vote. You can learn more about the women’s suffrage movement through the eyes of 19 individuals who were not in the national spotlight at the time in the book “Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote” by Susan Ware. This book shows that the fight for women’s suffrage was much broader and diverse than if is often portrayed to be. And you can even get local with the book “The Golden Lane: How Missouri Women Gained the Vote and Changed History” by Margot Ford McMillen.
I know that our country has had a rocky past as far as elections and voting are concerned. If you would like to learn just how rocky, you can check out “Down for the Count: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America” by Andrew Gumbel or “The Embattled Vote in America: From the Founding to the Present” by Allan Lichtman. But don’t let these books allow you to lose heart! There are people and organizations (like the one above) actively working to make our voting easier and our elections cleaner. You can read more about some of them in the book “Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting” by Joshua Douglas.
We try to keep current information about local elections available on our website. From either the main page or the catalog page, you can click on the “Research and Learn” tab and follow that to “Local Information” and then “Elections and Voting.” For even more books about voting, you can check out this handy list.
“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” ~Abraham Lincoln