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Are You Registered? Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day

The League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh want you to spend your Tuesday exercising “one of our most basic rights” and register to vote.

Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, and the group will hold registration drives at the North and Allegheny Community College campuses.

To register, Mark Wolosik, Allegheny County elections division manager, said you need to be a resident of the election district for at least 30 days before the Nov. 5 election.

“You are not required to bring any type of identification with you in order to register to vote, but you must supply on your voter registration form either the last four digits of your Social Security number or your Pennsylvania driver’s license number,” Wolosik said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Allegheny County’s estimated 2012 population was 1,229,338, and 879,183 were registered to vote in the May primary.

Eileen Olmsted, co-resident of the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh, said she has noticed many of the events scheduled for National Registration Day are on college campuses.

She thinks a lot of young voters are not politically aware and this might be a good way to get them involved and interested in what’s going on around them.

“We live very comfortable in the United States, and if you look at other countries where people are just having the opportunity to vote for the first time, they’re very, very excited about voting and they really turn out,” Olmsted said. “But we’re kind of complacent in this country.”

There are approximately 3,500 races on the Nov. 5 ballot in Allegheny County, according to the League of Women Voters.

In Pittsburgh, Republican Josh Wander is running against Democrat Bill Peduto and Independent Les Ludwig in a race for the mayor's office. Four city council member seats will be voted on.

According to the Allegheny County Elections Division, only 163,655 ballots were cast in the 2013 May primary.

Olmsted said she thinks there are many reasons why people do not vote.

“Even though we have polling times that go until 8 o clock at night, it’s often very difficult for people who maybe use public transportation to get to a voting precinct in time to vote,” Olmsted said.

She said she thinks a lot of people feel like they don’t know enough about the issues to vote, and others are just indifferent.

Wolosik said even less people come out for the off-year elections, which affect Allegheny County residents’ daily lives more than the national elections.

“The general rule that the, you know, the higher the interest in the elections, the more people that you have registering to vote for it,” Wolosik said. “So the high water mark is the presidential election, which generates the most interest among the voters, and what we typically see in the off-year elections … you do not see as much voter interest.”

The deadline for registering to vote in the November election is Oct. 7. You can register in person at the Allegheny County Election Division's office. Further information about registering to vote can be found at the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.