Mga kababayan, did you register already?
Today, October 6, is the deadline for new voters to register in many states (including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Indiana and Colorado). California allows registration till October 20.
I don't have to tell you how important this election is not just for us U.S. residents and citizens. Our economic woes are affecting the rest of the world, including our native land, the Philippines.
This election year, an unprecedented number of new voters have registered. Last year, 660,477 people were naturalized, 38,830 of whom were Filipinos. We can be a strong force this election.
Recently, at a party, I spoke with a very nice elderly Pinay and while watching a noontime show on TFC, we got to talking about politics. She asked me who I was voting for, and after answering and explaining my choice, I asked her back. She said she was not voting for my choice even though she feels that he will do a better job because someone told her that my candidate was "going to raise taxes." I asked her where did she hear that. "I don't remember," she said, "I just read about it sa e-mail."
I told her it might be better if she doesn't take at face value the lousy smear tactics that some people have resorted to and instead read up on well-documented reports and fact-checked accounts to get some real information.
I told her that even if she's not a news junkie, she can get valuable knowledge by widening her circle of information.
Earlier she had shared that her family lost a big amount of money because when their bank imploded, their deposit exceeded the FDIC insurance limit. I asked her if she knew why this economic crisis is happening, and she sighed before saying, "kaya nga parang ayokong bumoto ngayong eleksyon eh." A lot of things don't make sense anymore in her political party, she said.
I told her that would be a huge mistake, to waste her opportunity and to abandon her duty when many remain voiceless at a time when too much is at stake. After a while, she nodded.
She said she will research more. I added that, to spike her interest, she should also find out the positions of both candidates on Filipino issues that she can identify with such as the WWII veterans' rights, immigration, and of course, where they stand on things that affect middle class Americans like most of us.
Her earlier hesitation is understandable. Many of us who grew up in the Philippines were not taught how our votes matter. Unfortunately, it was a place where many votes were for sale and/or stolen so voting might not necessarily be a passion. The mantra for some voters there was, "kahit sinong nasa pwesto, walang mangyayari."
I don't know enough about the current political climate back home to say that that has completely changed but this much I know is true: We're in America now, in this place that has been good to us, where we and our children can aspire to greatness no matter the circumstances of our births or gender or race or current station in life. Whether we're Democrats or Republicans or Independents, this is the place where we can be assured our votes matter. And barring any chad-related gaffes, they won't be stolen.
So be a part of history. Claim your space in this country you now call home. Register, and on November 4, let's vote.
Here's the list of State Voter Registration Deadlines:
Alabama Fri, Oct. 24
Alaska Sun, Oct. 5 (postmark by Sat, Oct. 4)
Arizona Mon, Oct. 6
Arkansas Mon, Oct. 6
California Mon, Oct. 20
Colorado Mon, Oct. 6
Connecticut Tues, Oct. 21
Delaware Sat, Oct. 11
District of Columbia Mon, Oct. 6
Florida Mon, Oct. 6
Georgia Mon, Oct. 6
Hawaii Mon, Oct. 6
Idaho Register at Polls
Illinois Tues, Oct. 7
Indiana Mon, Oct. 6
Iowa Fri, Oct. 24 (or on Election Day at polling place)
Kansas Mon, Oct. 20
Kentucky Mon, Oct. 6
Louisiana Mon, Oct. 6
Maine Tue, Oct. 21 (or on Election Day at polling place)
Maryland Tue, Oct. 14
Massachusetts Wed, Oct. 15
Michigan Mon, Oct. 6
Minnesota Same Day Registration at polling place
Mississippi Mon, Oct. 6
Missouri Wed, Oct. 8
Montana Mon, Oct. 6 (or same day at elections office)
Nebraska Fri, Oct. 24 (mail by Fri, Oct. 17)
Nevada Tue, Oct. 4 (or in person until Oct. 14)
New Hampshire Same Day
New Jersey Tues, Oct. 14
New Mexico Tues, Oct. 7
New York Fri, Oct. 10
North Carolina Fri, Oct. 10
North Dakota N/A
Ohio Mon, Oct. 6
Oklahoma Fri, Oct. 10
Oregon Tue, Oct. 14
Pennsylvania Mon, Oct. 6
Rhode Island Sat, Oct. 4
South Carolina Sat, Oct. 4
South Dakota Mon, Oct. 20
Tennessee Mon, Oct. 6
Texas Mon, Oct. 6
Utah Mon, Oct. 6 or in person Tue, Oct. 28
Vermont Wed, Oct. 29
Virginia Mon, Oct. 6
Washington Sat, Oct. 4 (or until Mon, Oct. 20 in person)
West Virginia Wed, Oct. 15
Wisconsin Wed, Oct. 15 (or on Election Day at polling place)
Wyoming Can register at polls
If you are, or someone you know is, a US citizen living abroad, you can get information about overseas voting.
Here's an interesting way to express why you are voting: Go to http://www.amillionreasonstovote.com/ and tell America why you’re voting. Through pictures, words and your voice, you can participate in "A Million Reasons to Vote". All you need to do is go to their website, upload your picture, record your reason to both (written, spoken or both), then share your "patch" in the Virtual Quilt, "made by the people who will be most effected by the outcome of this election, the voting public."