This weekend, following all the Masses, there will be an opportunity to register to vote. One of our most precious inheritances as American citizens is the right to vote. Men and women have worked, fought, suffered and died to obtain this precious right for us. We have the ability and the obligation to choose those who govern us in our name. This is not only a civic duty but a moral one. As the U.S. Catholic Bishop’s document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship clearly states: “Responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.”
I want to repeat that: If you are a citizen of the United States of America, and you will be at least 18 years old by or on November 6, 2012, you have a most solemn obligation to participate in the election of our next governmental leaders by voting.
To assist you with this, this weekend Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrars for Travis County will be available after all the Masses to assist you with registering to vote. Several of our parishioners have been trained and duly sworn in as Volunteer Deputy Registrars (VDR) just to be able to do this.
I myself went this past Friday to the Travis County Tax Assessor’s Office to take the training and be sworn in as a VDR. While the Right to Vote is sacred and exercising this Right is a high-minded civic duty, the actual workings of government are much messier and more mundane. As Bismark once quipped: “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” So the training and process of becoming a VDR proved to be more like making sausages than patriotic pageantry. After waiting around in the Tax Assessor’s Office waiting area, we finally traipsed through a bewildering array of corridors to a small, stuffy room barely able to hold the 15 or so of us at the training. The instructor, with clear, simple statements, began to instruct us. It was almost like she was talking to a class of second graders. At first I was put off by this, until I realized that several of my classmates were having great difficulty following her! With infinite patience the instructor answered questions about material that had just been clearly covered, or responded to ridiculous hypothetical situations, and answered them all with remarkable restraint. I, however, was quickly becoming exasperated, and only with maximum effort able to restrain myself from throttling one of my fellow students. An hour and a half later, in what should have taken no longer than 45 minutes, I and my fellow students were duly sworn in as VDR’s. Fortunately, directly across the street from the Tax Accessor’s Office is Lammes’ Candy store, and a visit there after the training did much to improve my equilibrium.
I now have an official card on yellow paper, and more importantly, a registration number as a VDR, so I too am able to assist you in registering to vote.
If you are looking for some guidance in how to vote from a faith perspective, then you are in luck. Just go to www.austindiocese.org, and on the home page under the “DONATE” button is another that says “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” Click on that button to get a slew of materials from the Diocese and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Please do NOT put off registering to vote. Election Day is November 6. Early voting in Travis County begins on October 22. The deadline to register and be able to vote in the Presidential election is October 9, less than a month away. So REGISTER TODAY!!!!