How can you strengthen democracy? Exercise it.
Since 2016 there have been increased concerns about how our votes are counted. Although cybersecurity is a legitimate concern, and election officials are taking every necessary precaution to secure your vote, we should not forget the other danger to our democracy: Not voting. This election is your opportunity to exercise democracies’ most vital muscle - your vote in the ballot box.
All elections matter. In the 2014 midterm election, we saw record low turnout, with only 25 percent of registered voters participating. Fortunately, there appears to be more public interest in the 2018 midterm primary election, despite historically lower voter participation rates in the recent past.
On June 5, 2018, there will be several local candidates and propositions on your ballot. These local offices are responsible for numerous essential decisions that affect you personally.
At the state level, all voters will receive a ballot with U.S. Senator, Governor, all other statewide constitutional officers and legislative members. Your U.S. Senator will pass laws, approve Presidential appointments and ratify treaties with other countries. Your Governor will sign and veto bills, set budget priorities and appoint state court judges. Other offices, like Secretary of State, determine how we vote.
At the county level, your elected County Assessor sets property values that provide revenue for our schools and counties. It is your elected Sheriff, District Attorney and Superior Court Judges that enforce our laws and ensure justice. It is your elected member of the Board of Supervisors who decides how the counties priorities will be funded.
Every one of these positions will impact your life, whether you vote or not. In the voting booth we are a nation of equals, but only if we actually take the time to exercise our voting rights.
This year you have new opportunities to exercise your vote.
- May 21 st is the deadline to register to vote or update your registration through the mail or online. If Californians miss the 15-day registration deadline, a new law now allows citizens to register and vote at their county elections office, or designated locations, from May 22 – June 5. In a handful of counties, voters will also be able to register to vote or update their registrations at vote centers.
- Automatic voter registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) goes live in April. Voters will now be registering to vote, after affirming their eligibility, when transacting business with the DWV. Individuals who do not wish to register to vote may choose to opt out.
- 16 and 17 year olds can pre-register to vote. Although they cannot vote prior to 18, they can pre-register so that they become active registered voters on their 18 th birthday. In many areas of the state, they can also volunteer to be student poll workers, as long as they have at least a 2.5 GPA, get permission from the school and their parents and attend a training session.
- Language assistance is available in most voting jurisdictions. Non-English-speaking citizens, like all other citizens, should be encouraged to vote. In precincts where needed, the county elections office will have translated ballots posted at the polling place to use as a reference. In addition, any voter may choose to bring someone to help them vote.
Important things to know about voting in this election
- The offices of Governor and US Senate each have more than 20 candidates running. In most counties these races will appear in more than one column on your ballot. However, you can only vote for one. If you vote for more than one candidate in these races, your vote will not count for that contest.
- For the first time in decades, many voters will receive more than one ballot card with all of the contests and measures that they are eligible to vote on. Be sure to review and return both ballots cards when voting.
Your vote will help decide the future of your community. To check your registration status, find where your polling place is located, know what’s on your ballot and apply to vote when away from home on Election Day, contact your local elections office: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/county- elections-offices/