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Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

In the midst of National Voter Education Week, I write with an important reminder:

If you are eligible to vote, please register, inform yourself of the candidates and the issues, and cast a ballot.

The Harvard Votes Challenge has made it easier than ever for students, faculty, staff, and other academic personnel to contribute to the democratic process. I hope you will devote some time this week to visiting their website and to learning more about how you can help the University achieve 100 percent participation between now and Election Day.

I often say that voting is the first responsibility of citizenship. This year, amid so much unease and uncertainty, that message seems inadequate. We must remember that suffrage has been hard won for most Americans. Throughout our nation’s history, privilege and power have sometimes kept people from participating in the very democracy they helped to create and enrich. Every vote—in every election—is a way to honor the sacrifices of our predecessors who mounted extraordinary efforts to see the franchise expanded to women, people of color, and young people. The right unexercised is, quite frankly, a history disregarded.

Each of us, whether eligible to vote or not, has a responsibility to affirm and uphold the ideals of democracy. The Harvard we have come to know and love, to challenge and change, is a uniquely American institution. Our strength depends, in many ways, on the strength of the union, and we must do our part to ensure that every person’s voice is heard. If you are eligible, please register and vote.

All the best,