Founding Father Samuel Adams once said that when voting, “each citizen [should] remember…that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.”
It is no secret that many people do not share Mr. Adams’s perspective. According to City & State, approximately one-quarter of New Yorkers cast votes in the 2014 gubernatorial election. New York’s voter participation rate is one of the lowest in the country. Also, in 2012, “the United States had a turnout of slightly more than half – 53.6 percent – of its voting age population.” Our nation’s voter participation rate is lower than the participation rates of all but three other industrialized countries. Furthermore, many Americans who do not exercise their voting rights are Christians.
Why do so few New Yorkers vote? Is it because the registration process is too cumbersome? Too confusing? (To obtain a voter registration form, please click here.) Is it because we are not available to vote on Election Day? (Polls are open from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Election Day, and absentee ballots are available.) Do voters lack information about the voting process, or about upcoming elections? (To find the website of the Board of Elections in your county, please click here.) Do New Yorkers believe that our votes do not matter? (In recent years, several notable races in New York were so close that the outcomes only became clear well after Election Day, when absentee ballots were counted.) Are New Yorkers so disgusted with the political process that we wish to avoid it completely? Or do we simply take our voting rights for granted?
Some observers believe that various reforms of the voting process are needed to help promote voter participation. While certain proposed reforms—such as holding congressional and state primaries on the same day—are sensible, New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation (NYFRF) believes that the existing system allows the vast majority of New York voters to exercise our voting rights conveniently and fairly. The major issue is one of individual commitment.
During the last three decades, NYFRF has seen our state government move in a direction hostile to our Christian beliefs. The mission of NYFRF, is to educate, encourage and equip Christians for effective participation in New York State government. NYFRF’s VOICE Project works with Christians and churches across the state to encourage New Yorkers to register and vote. At the VOICE Project’s web site—NewYorkFamilies.org/voice—New Yorkers can find out if they are registered to vote, obtain voter registration forms, find answers to frequently asked questions, locate their polling places, and sign up for updates. Currently, NYFRF is on the verge of reaching a long-held goal: Acquiring a permanent office space to house the VOICE Project and other NYFRF activities. If this goal is achieved, NYFRF’s impact will grow.
New York State’s greatest need is spiritual, not political. However, the Christian community cannot expect to make constructive changes in our state’s broken government unless we get informed, register and vote. To learn more, please visit the VOICE Project’s web site today at NewYorkFamilies.org/voice. To support our efforts financially, please click here.