IN THE 2000 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, JUST 55 percent of the voting age population went to the polls, according to the Census Bureau. I'm considerably higher among home builders and others involved in housing. But unfortunately, no matter how you look at that number, it seems likely that many people who work in the housing industry just didn't bother to vote.

People old enough to vote don't need a lecture from me about the importance of voting and their responsibilities as U.S. citizens, so I'll settle for a gentle reminder. Elected officials—from the White House to city halls in the smallest towns—have a significant effect on the home building industry. That's why it's important that everyone who makes his or her living by helping people fulfill the American dream of home-ownership be as informed as possible and vote in the upcoming elections on Nov. 2.

To make it easier for members and their employees to participate in the political process, the NAHB has launched a comprehensive election Web site: This new member service positions the NAHB as a leading source of election information for members, their families, and their employees.

The NAHB is committed to giving home builders a strong voice in choosing their elected officials this November, and this Web site offers members the tools they need to make the voting process as easy and as uncomplicated as possible.

The early voting and voter registration areas of the site leverage recent voting law changes to help members and their contacts take advantage of convenient voting methods such as early voting (although each state has its own election laws, 90 percent now allow their citizens to vote early—some as early as 43 days before election day), absentee voting, and voting by mail. Voter registration and early voting information are available to nonmembers at www.homebuilders.

In addition to voting information, the Web site contains a variety of election-related resources, including the latest national poll results, information on association activities at nominating conventions and during election campaigns, instructions for contributing to a political party or a candidate, and a link to the NAHB's Build-Pac, one of the most successful and influential political action committees in Washington.

I can't emphasize how important it is for members and their employees and business colleagues to take advantage of these services and to vote in the upcoming election.

Voting isn't just a right; it's a responsibility. As builders, we know firsthand just how difficult things can get for our industry when elected officials don't understand how important housing is and relegate it to second-class status. That's why it's doubly important that we register, vote, and participate in the political process.

As a voter, as a citizen, and as a builder, I urge NAHB members to take advantage of this important new resource and to make sure their subordinates and counterparts have the opportunity to do the same.

Bobby Rayburn
President, NAHB, Washington, D.C.