Voter Registration - All Year, Every Year

 

Fr. Frank Pavone

 
  6/20/2005
 

"Lord, send forth Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!"

The good news, of course, is that God has sent forth His Spirit, renewing each of us and calling us to renew the rest of the earth, through the same Spirit working through us.

The task, however, requires more than the gifts of grace that equip us. We need tools, on the natural level, that enable us to get the job done. "Grace builds on nature" is a longstanding principle in theology.

A simple example: good Christians are called to be good citizens. Being a citizen of heaven does not replace being a citizen of earth. Rather, we work out our salvation and sanctification precisely through the exercise of our earthly duties, including our civic duties.

And primary among our civic duties is the duty to vote. One of the tools we need to carry out that mission is to register to vote. The Church's role is not to set up or run the political parties. But the Church's role does include equipping the people with the tools they need to be good citizens of earth so that they can be citizens of heaven. Hence, Churches should register voters.

Now we normally hear about this only at election time. But we cannot afford to wait until then to try to get all of the unregistered believers registered. We are called to be proactive, not just reactive. There simply isn't enough time to do the kind of persuasion, education, and outreach needed to activate all believers if we only do it when a major election is on the horizon. Voter registration is an activity Churches should do all year long, every year. The call should go forth constantly: be vigilant, be ready, have your tools in hand. Let's not wait until registration deadlines surprise us, or people realize too late that because they have moved, they have to register in their new district.

And let us not tire of repeating the rather elementary legal principle that voter registration is an activity perfectly legal for Churches to perform, as long as it is non-partisan. In other words, we do not limit the opportunity to register only to people of a specific political party. Rather, we open the doors to everyone without regard for party affiliation. That's because the motive is not to promote a party, but rather to equip Christians to do the work for which the Spirit impels them.

All year long, every year, Churches can have voter registration forms available at the rectory, and regularly have tables at the back of Church to give people an easy opportunity to register. Mailings to parishioners can contain regular reminders about this. The parish website can have a link to www.VoterSunday.org, which enables people to download the registration forms from their own computer. That same website gives all the information you need to conduct voter registration in Church or in a church-group meeting.

Don't wait! Let's register voters all year, every year!