Register and Vote. Or Shut Up. 

It's almost over, y'all. After what feels like 928 years, the end is in sight. Election Day is less than six weeks away.

The deadline to register to vote is October 11th. That means you have less than two weeks to make sure your electoral affairs are in order.

Are you registered? You probably know if you are. If you've voted or registered within the past eight years, you should be good to go — but double-check to be safe. This is important. Go to shelbyvote.com and click "Voter Information." Right at the top of the page is a button that says "Am I Registered?" If you're not registered, no judgment. Maybe you've recently returned from a decade living abroad. Maybe you just turned 18. Maybe you haven't gotten around to it. Whatever. The good news is, you've got time. Print a registration form. Or call the Election Commission and get one mailed to you. Or pick one up at the library. Just don't forget to send it in once you've filled it out.

If you are registered, that's great. But is your information correct? Is everything spelled right? Did you get a new last name (congratulations) and need to update your information? You can do that by email now; the information's on that website. If your address is out-of-date, are you prepared to drive across town to your old neighborhood or your parents' house or wherever you're supposed to vote according to your ID?

Go ahead and check that too, while you're thinking about it. Is it valid? Does the information correspond with the information on your voter registration card? Do you need an absentee ballot? You can request one up to a week before the election. If you have to work on Election Day, early voting starts October 19th at locations all over Shelby County. You'll be in and out in less time than it takes to fill out the Best of Memphis survey. If you need a ride, I'm sure somebody can help. I'll call you an Uber myself, if I have to.

click to enlarge Voter Information
  • Voter Information

Because you should vote. You certainly have the right to opt out if you want, but I wish you'd reconsider. Even if your favorite candidate lost in the primary. Even if nobody "inspires" you (thanks, Obama, for setting that bar impossibly high) or is the kind of person you'd want to hang out with at happy hour. Vote for the candidate you think is best up to the task. And vote in the state and local races, too. Because even if you don't vote, you know who does?

People who think our current president — who by most objective and fact-based measures has done a pretty swell job stewarding our nation these past seven-plus years, all things considered — is illegitimate because he is a Kenyan-born Muslim. Still.

People who care more about what Colin Kaepernick does during the national anthem than why he does it. People who think women should "just work harder" if they want to earn as much money as men with the same amount of education and work experience.

People who think poor children should starve if their parents can't provide for them.

People who post anti-Semitic, homophobic, and sexist memes all day long on Twitter but still have the default egg avatar.

I don't believe those people's views represent the majority of Americans. If you're one of those people, well, I'm sorry you feel that way. I'm also surprised to see you reading the Flyer. Good on you for branching out, I guess. But even if your guy wins, which tends to be the case in this state, I will have done what I could. At least it's only 11 electoral votes.

That's one of the things about America that are both simultaneously wonderful and terrifying. Every citizen over the age of 18 who isn't a convicted felon gets to pull a lever or push a button or punch out some chads, if that's still a thing. On Election Day, when it comes to deciding the direction of the country, you get as many votes as your next-door neighbor, your boss, and Beyoncé. Unless your boss isn't registered or your neighbor is a felon. Why not use it? If your candidate wins, you'll have helped! If not, you'll have earned the right to grumble a little. And if some kind of real-life Veep situation or another Florida 2000 happens, well, it won't be your fault.

Jen Clarke is a proud Memphian and a digital marketing strategist.

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