"The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men."

- President Lyndon B. Johnson

"Suffrage is the pivotal right."

- Susan B. Anthony

Why register to vote this year?

If President Lyndon B. Johnson and Susan B. Anthony are not persuasive enough, consider the words of Cape May County Board of Elections Registrar Michael Kennedy: "People die all over the world for the right to vote and to have a say."

Registering to vote in the United States, particularly in New Jersey, has been made about as easy as possible.

New Jersey voters can obtain voter registration forms - which can be completed in mere minutes - at the offices of the Motor Vehicle Commission, the county Board of Elections, social-service agencies, municipal and county clerks, and the Social Security Administration.

Registration forms are also available online on the state Division of Elections website.

And voters in New Jersey can vote by mail if they want - no reason is necessary - after completing an Application for Vote by Mail Ballot and returning it to their county clerk. Those applications are also available at the Division of Elections website and at county clerk offices.

You can register to vote if you are a United States citizen, will be 18 years old by the election, are a resident of the state and county 30 days before the election, and are not currently serving a sentence, probation or parole because of a felony conviction.

Some will say they don't have the time to register or they don't know the issues. The answer is to make the time and learn about the issues and the candidates whose decisions will ultimately affect your lives in some form or another.

This year, of course, voters will choose a president, the most important position in the nation.

In addition, New Jersey voters will choose a U.S. senator and congressional representatives, including in South Jersey's 2nd and 3rd districts.

In the Senate race, the main candidates are Democratic incumbent Sen. Robert Menendez and Republican challenger Joe Kyrillos, a state senator from Monmouth County.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Republican incumbent Rep. Frank LoBiondo is being challenged by Democrat Cassandra Shober and several lesser-known candidates. In the 3rd Congressional District, the main candidates are Republican incumbent Rep. Jon Runyan and Democratic challenger Shelly Adler.

There are also a host of local and county races, and 2012 also marks the first year that many voters will choose their school board members in November.

These are the people who will make the laws you have to live by and the decisions that will affect the education of your children.

So, take the time - it's just a few minutes - and register to vote. Then, as the campaigns begin in earnest after Labor Day, learn about the people who would represent you. And, on Nov. 6, cast your ballots and have your say.

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 16.


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