By Toni G. Atkins | Notes from Toni
In California, we believe that democracy works best when all voices are heard, and every vote is counted. In recent years, we’ve worked hard to make voting as easy and accessible as possible.
We’ve taken steps to increase voter participation by allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote; automatically registering eligible voters through the Department of Motor Vehicles; allowing voters to register online until 15 days prior to an election, even allowing same-day registration and provisional ballots for those who miss the voter-registration deadline. And, starting in 2020, all mail-in ballots will be postage-paid, because no one should have to pay to have their vote counted.
The California Voter’s Choice Act of 2016 authored by my colleague, Sen. Ben Allen, created a pilot program to open one-stop Vote Centers in seven counties across the state. At any vote center in a participating county, voters can now:
- Vote in-person.
- Drop off their ballot.
- Get a replacement ballot.
- Vote using an accessible voting machine.
- Get help and voting material in multiple languages.
All of these steps have paid off in a big way, as Californians registered to vote in record numbers and, last month, produced the highest turnout in recent memory for a non-presidential election. Roughly 12.8 million Californians cast a ballot on Nov. 6, or 65 percent of the 19.7 million registered voters in the state. According to the Secretary of State, more Californians voted early this year than in any previous midterm election.
We still have a long way to go to make sure every eligible voter can have their voice heard. But rest assured, we want to hear you, and we will continue to break down barriers to voting, because it’s your right as an American.
—Toni G. Atkins represents the 39th District in the California Senate. Follow her on Twitter @SenToniAtkins.
Source: La Mesa Currier