Iowa has done its national, quadrennial duty of putting the candidates for President of the United States through their caucus system. The turnout was pretty high (180,000 Republicans and 171,109 Democrats voted) and the results (Hillary Clinton only 1 percentage point ahead of Bernie Sanders and the GOP top 3 being Cruz, Trump and Rubio) means that things are heating up between the frontrunners.

In only a few short weeks, Louisiana has its presidential primary (March 5) and it is very important that you check your voter registration. Presidential primaries are closed meaning only Democrats can vote for Democratic candidates and only Republicans can vote for Republican candidates. Voters not affiliated with a party will not be able to vote for a presidential candidate (although they can still vote in the general election on November 8).

Wednesday, February 3rd is the deadline for registering for the March 5th primary. Go register online at geauxvote.com or go visit your registrar of voters.

we didn't vote

Our democracy would be a lot more representative (and more progressive) if more people voted – read this report for more details. The census data bears it out:

Census data on the 2014 midterm elections quantifies some of these gaps. While 52 percent of those earning more than $150,000 voted, only 24 percent of those earning less than $10,000 went to the polls. That divide is further magnified by age. Among 18-24 year olds earning less than $30,000 turnout was 17 percent in 2014, but among those earning more than $150,000 and older than 65, the turnout rate was nearly four times higher, at 65 percent. There were also racial gaps in voter turnout. In 2014, 46 percent of white voters turned out to vote, compared to 40 percent of black voters, and just 27 percent of Asians and Latinos.

Less than a hundred years ago the suffragettes won the vote by showing they were prepared to die. A little over fifty years ago, civil rights activists were beaten, arrested and murdered before the passage of the Voter Rights Act in 1965 applied a nationwide prohibition against the denial or abridgment of the right to vote. And, right now, in countries around the globe, people are literally dying to vote.

Please don’t throw away your hard fought rights by not registering or by not voting.

There are fundamental differences between the parties and between the rhetoric of the candidates. Listen to what they say, what their chosen mouthpieces say (Sarah Palin for Trump and Phil Robertson for Cruz, for example), fact check them and then get out there and exercise your right to vote!

It really does matter.