It’s easy to be dissatisfied with the actions, or inactions, of government these days. While Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives dithered over a plan to keep the federal government funded in order to avoid a calamitous shutdown – a scenario that has “always been a loser for Republicans politically,” according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – their leaders still found time to schedule a hearing on their ill-advised impeachment inquiry of President Biden.

The effort centers on whether Biden benefited from his son’s overseas business dealings, has almost zero chance of actually leading to an impeachment and seems mostly to be about smearing the Democrat. It also ignores the broader, long-term issue of familial influence peddling as recently demonstrated by the Republican Party’s collective lack of interest in the $2 billion investment Donald Trump’s son-in-law received from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman just months after Trump left office. Oh, and has anyone mentioned that Trump, who was twice impeached as president, still faces a slew of criminal charges from multiple prosecutors?

With this as the backdrop, many Americans are, unsurprisingly, frustrated by the likely prospect of a Trump-Biden rematch in 2024; neither has broad popularity. Polls have shown a lot of Democrats don’t want Biden to be their nominee, yet Trump’s standing with voters other than his core supporters is so weak that the incumbent is favored to best him in the general election (although polls show it to be close).

Political extremism, the rise of hate groups, book banning, the anti-LGBTQ+ backlash – there’s plenty of reason for concern that democracy and basic constitutional rights are at risk. This is, after all, a country where the 45th president, a man prone to excessive self-love and with a minimalist regard for truth, could pursue a scheme to thwart election results with fake electors and an attack on the U.S. Capitol and, at least so far, get away with it. Anyone who isn’t just a tad nervous about America’s future has either not been paying attention or is in deep denial.

All this only underscores the need for all Americans to have their voices heard. Voting is the essential obligation of citizenship. Last Tuesday marked the annual National Voter Registration Day. It is estimated that one in four Americans who are eligible to vote is not registered. The one-day outreach may help. Organizers estimate that a decade of effort has increased voter rolls by about 5 million, thanks also to boosts from celebrities like Taylor Swift. But how shameful that it is necessary.

While there are surely some for whom registration could prove a challenge, there are clearly too many who take their civic duty – a right that many have fought and died for – far too lightly. And this isn’t just about participating in national elections. Neighborhoods with high registration numbers and voter turnout are more apt to have some clout with the politicians who need their votes.

What does it take to remedy this situation? In Maryland, one need only use the state’s online voter registration system or submit an application through your local elections board. Other state offices, including local offices of the Department of Health and Department of Human Services and others accept applications, too. There is no charge, but you do have to prove where you live – if not with a driver’s license, then perhaps bank statements, utility bill or official government document with your name and address.

Besting the 2020 turnout requires voters to make a greater effort including, for thousands, registering to vote and they can do it, if necessary, on the day of the election. The time for excuses must stop.

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