The Truth about National Voter Registration Day

Since it is a duty of Secretaries of State to conduct election business in their state, many have led other efforts to promote voter registration. For example, in California, the office of Alex Padilla office has pushed ballot bowl kickoff, online voter registration and pre-voter registration among 16 and 17 year olds over the past few years.

Another of these efforts is, National Voter Registration Day, which is also heavily promoted by different organizations throughout the nation. According to the National Day Calendar, “The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) established the first National Voter Registration Day on September 25, 2012.  In 2014, the NASS established the Fourth Tuesday of September as the official day for National Voter Registration Day.”

I’ve personally been a part of several voter registration drives over the past six years, and I find it really amazing to see people interested in their communities in this way. Despite this feeling, I have to say, the number of people registered to vote compared to the number of people who actually go out and vote are two entirely different numbers.

I believe that this is because there needs to be more follow up on voter education. A lot of these things I learned when I served as an election/poll worker on several election days. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who wants a thorough understanding of how elections are carried out. Before voting, make sure to read your voter bill of rights and read through different voter guides to get briefed on ballot measures if you don’t have the time to do your own research. Remember, there’s three different options for voting:

1. Early voting  Google your counties registrar of voters office to see the hours and days this is open, it usually begins a few weeks before the election.

2. Voting by mail A form needs to be filled out and turned in to the registrar of voters office in order to be able to vote by mail. There’s usually a deadline a week or more before the election to apply for this.

Tip: if you lose your ballot or something happens to it (your kids drew on it, a beverage was spilled, etc.), you can always show up on election day and still vote. I’d suggest you bring along the ballot though if you have it, so you won’t have to wait in the provisional ballot (additional verification) line. If you forget to mail in your ballot, you can also drive by the elections office and drop it off while they’re open or not (they have a box outside usually), or you can drop it off at any polling location on election day (I’d suggest within your county to make the counting process go by quicker).

Lastly, don’t worry about using a stamp, your ballot will still be mailed to the election office, they’ll have to cover the costs.

3. Voting on election day My number one advice is avoid the hassle of a provisional ballot, they’re very time consuming and will mean a longer wait time for your vote to be counted because they actually have to verify. Therefore, I’d highly suggest sticking to your precinct and voting at your designated voting location as noted on the sample ballot mailed to your home. Be prepared to give your full name and address when you get to the front of the line. In California, IDs are not required to vote, but there are certain circumstances in which election workers are instructed to ask on their rosters. Save yourself some time, bring your sample ballot pre-filled so you can get in and out of the booth quickly. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a new ballot if you make a mistake. These are just a few things mentioned in the voter bill of rights, which again, I highly suggest you read.

If anything sketchy happens to you or anyone else throughout the voting process, in whichever form you choose to do it, please make sure to report it.

What do you think?

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Rocio Aguayo

Rocio Aguayo

Rocio Aguayo is a young community oriented aspiring educator who has worked as a mentor with Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC), a tutor with Youth Action Project at local high schools and now a youth leader with CAPS in San Bernardino, CA. She previously took pictures and wrote opinion pieces for the El Chicano Newspaper in the Inland Empire and was yearbook editor-in-chief at Arroyo Valley High School.

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