Many of us — more than 50 million citizens in this country — are eligible to vote, but do not bother to register. Every citizen of the U. S. over the age of 18 is eligible to register and vote.

Every other state requires registration in advance of Election Day. Most states close the registration period 30 days before they hold the election. You must be registered in order to vote for any elective office in the U. S., from president to township advisory board. You only have to register once as long as you live at the same address and vote now and again.

Upsides and downsides of registering

Maybe you’re not registered because you’ve convinced yourself that you should avoid politics. However, avoiding politics is not possible. Political decisions will be made for you even if you elect not to participate. You still have to pay taxes even if you don’t vote. Elected officials make decisions about which streets get paved, which sidewalks get repaired, and which schools close without regard to your opinions, if you don’t vote. There is no hole deep enough for you to bury your head in to avoid politics completely. You can’t run, and you can’t hide — so you may as well participate.