Joining the Democratic Party is a simple process that affords privileges not available to non-registered party members. While anyone can vote for Democratic Party candidates in general elections without joining the party, benefits of joining include voting in the party's primary elections to select candidates for statewide and national political races.
Democratic Party History and Values
The Democratic Party, created in 1792, is the oldest among political parties in the United States. Democrats are considered to be liberal and to advocate progressive taxation, reduced military spending, stronger economic regulations and increased spending on domestic programs, including healthcare and education. Before joining the Democratic Party, some voters may find it beneficial to research the party's stances on important issues to ensure their values align.
Register to Vote
The registration process generally involves filling out a form and submitting it to your state election office. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the Motor Voter Act, makes it easy to register: Citizens can register or update their voter registration while applying for or renewing their driver's licenses or state-issued IDs. Since motor vehicle registration agencies collect most of the same information as election offices, the Motor Voter Act streamlines the registration process by eliminating the need to submit duplicate information. This form of registration is also available at many public assistance offices and military recruitment centers.
You can also print out the Register to Vote form posted on the United States Election Assistance Commission's website. The form asks basic demographic questions and gives you the option to state your choice of party. While choosing a political party is optional, many states allow only registered party members to participate in primary elections, caucuses and conventions. Twenty-five states currently allow online registration.
Show Up and Vote
After registering to vote as a Democrat, you're ready for your most important responsibility as a party member: voting. While anyone can vote for a Democratic candidate in general elections, registered Democrats can vote in the party's primary elections, nominating the candidates that will run in general elections. Aside from voting for Democratic candidates, party members can vote on propositions and initiatives that further the Democratic Party's objectives. Often, the state-level Democratic Party releases a report prior to elections stating their official positions on ballot initiatives.
Donate Time and Money
Aside from voting, the Democratic Party requests that its supporters donate time and money. Most money contributed to the party is used to fund Democratic candidates' campaigns. Party officials always need members to volunteer on the campaign trail and in door-to-door voter registration drives. Like members of any other political party, registered Democrats can contact their representatives to discuss important issues and find out how they can personally contribute to the party. As a Democratic Party member, you can also start a petition or circulate an existing one, gathering enough signatures to put a measure on the ballot or show support for an issue.
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