National Voter Registration Day

Chair of the Political Science Department Melinda Mueller talks the importance of voting


Luke Taylor, News Editor

National Voter Registration Day is a civic holiday with the purpose of educating people on voting and encouraging them to get registered.

According to U.S. census data from 2020, up to 1 in 4 Americans are not registered to vote.

Activists and educators can use this day to hold events to help people get registered for voting. This year, it happens on Sep. 28.

Melinda Mueller, the chair of Eastern’s political science department, said that voting is important to give a citizen’s preferred politician a chance.

“We have seen some incredibly close elections where outcomes definitely come down to a handful of votes, so every vote does count. As citizens, we get to cast our ballots,” Mueller said. “We don’t always “win,” but if we stop voting, our favored candidates, parties, or policies will never have a chance.”

Mueller also talked about how local elections are just as important as national ones.

In college towns like Charleston, universities like Eastern can have a huge sway in local elections because the student body makes up a huge part of the population.

“Imagine if we had a student on the city council—might we have different priorities or policies?” Mueller said. “Just being able to have a student’s voice represented locally could make a big difference.”

In recent years, many people have raised concerns about the voting process and fears that their votes don’t actually matter.

Those fears may come from rumors about voter fraud.

Mueller said that evidence does not support those rumors.

“Political Scientists and other researchers find that while fraud sometimes exists, it’s often a wash in the end, with no preference to a particular candidate or party when you look at the entire nation,” Mueller said. “The Help America Vote Act was passed in 2002 to improve training of poll workers, to upgrade voting machines and voter registration, and to minimize problems with recounts.”

Other worries about voting come from critiques of the electoral college. Mueller said that being vocal with those critiques could be beneficial.

“The Electoral College is not a perfect system, but if you care about this, you should get involved in voicing your opinion, and learn about potential reforms,” Mueller said.

Many political activists put a lot of focus on encouraging people to get registered to vote.

Registering has gotten easier in recent years as states have made websites so that people don’t have to go in person or send physical mail to get registered.

In Illinois, the voter registration application can be found at

This page also includes a link to double check if you have already registered.

To get registered online, all you need beyond basic information is your Illinois Driver’s License or Illinois State ID number, the date the license or ID was issued and the last four digits of your social security number.

Once your application has been approved, you’ll be mailed your voter ID card.

However, voting is not the only way to get involved with local or national politics.

Mueller recommended getting involved right on Eastern’s campus.

“Read multiple sources of high-quality news to learn more about politics. Get involved in campus political organizations,” Mueller said. “The Political Science Association is a nonpartisan RSO that discusses and debates politics and policy, and they also help out with registration drives and voter education. If you have a political party preference or an issue you care deeply about, get involved in an RSO—or create one!

Luke Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].