Declare Yourself: Register to Vote

Sep 28, 2004

Posted by: Melissa Anelli


As the American readers of this site no doubt know, on November 2 the country will go to the polls to decide who is elected president of the United States for the next four years. We are taking a rare aberrance from our HP-related focus to encourage our eligible readers to register to vote and then make the trip to the booth when the time comes.

We want to emphasize – we cannot emphasize enough – that we are not advocating for any one candidate. No TLC editor has ever revealed his or her political affiliations on this site. There is no political agenda here. Vote for President Bush, Senator Kerry, Dobby the House-Elf or anyone else if that’s your fancy. But we know very well how dismal voting numbers are in this country, and feel that should change. With such a substantial audience reading TLC, we feel we’d be doing the country (and the world) a disservice if we did not encourage our readers to navigate the process.

Some people think they’re registered and are not. Too many know they’re not. Too many people either don’t know what they need to do to vote, or don’t feel they’d be doing any good by voting, or just don’t want to bother. If you’re really against voting, that’s your right just as it’s your right to play a part in deciding who runs your country. But if you are sitting on the fence, we’d like to help you get down from it.

The 2000 presidential election taught us that a small fraction of people can change the world. In fact, I worked at the time with someone from Broward County, Fla., who had forgotten to send in his absentee ballot and felt himself responsible for the presidency’s fate (it turned out well for him, though; his candidate won). Don’t do that to yourself.

From’s fact sheet:

Over the past 30 years, voting has declined steadily in the United States. According to the Federal Election Commission, only 36 percent of eligible young people voted in the 2000 Presidential Election. It’s a fact that 45 million young people don’t vote, but it’s also a fact that a mere fraction of this group – 10 percent, even 5 percent – can change the course of an election if they understand the power of democracy and its ultimate tool, the vote.

If 1,000 people – that’s 0.2% of you on a normal day – registered to vote and did through this site, you could play a major part in deciding an election. That’s too big of a responsibility for us to ignore.

So you’ll find all the links you need to guide yourself through the process right here on TLC. On the right of this page is a button that goes to, a national, non-partisan, nonprofit, voter education site that is so far responsible for the registration of 561,000 voters (and is shooting for a million). It has a focus on attracting youth voters but is good for any age category. We recommend the “Four Simple Steps of Voting” file (it’s a PDF, “save as” to download), and “Everything you ever wanted to know about registering to vote and voting in the United States” (also a PDF). Want to know about the candidates? Check out‘s page on the subject, or just watch the debates – the first one, between President Bush and Senator Kerry, is this Thursday night (check local listings).

Don’t like Try the government’s (less user-friendly) site: The Federal Election Commission. We don’t care where you go to register, just that you do.

The deadlines for applying for absentee ballots are approaching. The campaign is in its final legs. There are no more excuses – all the information is now at your fingertips. If you have any inclination to vote, get clicking.

Our button will remain active until the election. The button is 100×100 – feel free to steal it for use on LJs, Web sites, and the like. As TLC is an American-run site, it will only be doing this for American elections. Update: So many of you wanted to know why this is I thought I’d address it right here. It has nothing to do with American “superiority,” though it is true to say that an American election affects the world the way few others do. We are doing this because this is what we have the time and manpower to do. We would love nothing more than to encourage voting in all voting countries, but if we did we would no longer be Leaky. This is what we can do – we can only change so much of the world at a time. Irish philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke said these famous words: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” If everyone did something, within their limits, things would be a lot better for everyone. This is what we can do. This is our part.

Get educated. Make up your own mind. Make your voice heard.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.