Voter registration 101

Deadline: Now and ongoing –

If you thought September 24th’s National Voter Registration Day didn’t apply to you, think again! When’s the last time you checked your voter registration? And are you certain all of your eligible family and friends are registered? Now is the time to make sure! 

California election dates you need to know:

Yes, I want to register to vote:

  • Eligible to vote, but not registered? Pick up a paper application, fill it out and put it in the mail – no postage required! You can find paper applications at lots of places, including:
  • Want to register online?
    • You’ll need:
      • your California driver license or ID card number
      • the last four digits of your social security number, and
      • your date of birth.
    • Your info will be provided to the CA Department of Motor Vehicles to retrieve a copy of your DMV signature. 
    • Don’t have one of those IDs, or have other questions? Check the CA Secretary of State’s Election Division FAQ or contact them at 800-345-VOTE (8683) or by email.
  • Is your registration accurate? Check! Many voter registrations have errors – check yours.
  • Do you need to re-register? Check here, and if you need to, make sure to re-register now. These are some (not all) of the reasons you must re-register to vote:
    • you moved since you last registered
    • you legally changed your name since you last registered
    • you want to change your political party
  • Know any 16- or 17-year olds? They may be eligible to pre-register if they’ll be 18 by election time. Check their eligibility and help them pre-register (either online or using the paper form) so they can vote once they turn 18.

CA Secretary of State

Learn more:

Pass on to your family & friends in other states:

  • Vote.org offers lots of information, and the url is easy to remember (it requires you to provide an email address).
  • When We All Vote is “is on a mission to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American.” By linking to Rock The Vote, they provide specific info about local elections and more.
  • Indivisible has partnered with TurboVote to help you sign up to get election reminders, register to vote, apply for your absentee ballot, etc.
  • The League of Women Voters’ Education Fund 411.org provides personalized voter information, voting guides, and more.
  • The National Association of Secretaries of States’ website helps eligible voters figure out how and where to vote.

“Get Out the Vote” poster by Annette Lange 

 

Help ensure we’re all counted

The 2020 Census is coming! A complete count of “all persons” living in the United States during the upcoming census is important to us all; the results determine how many Congressional seats each state gets and the amount of federal funding that states, counties and communities receive. With the White House’s outrageous attempts to add a citizenship question, our concern that vulnerable communities will be badly undercounted looms large. The Urban Institute’s recent research report assesses that California has the greatest undercount risk; their interactive tool shows how miscount risk factors could affect states and demographic groups in the 2020 Census. That’s our schools, roads, and other public services at risk of losing money!

On the upcoming census couples living together will have the option to identify their relationship as same-sex. Responses will provide the most reliable data to date on the number of same-sex marriages and cohabiting partners in the U.S.;  vital information for advocates, policymakers, and researchers working on LGBTQ+ issues.

census Fact_Sheet_for_LGBTQ_Audience-1 640.jpg

Beyond responding to the census yourself, there’s much you can do to help make sure all people in our communities are counted. 

What you can do:

  • Work for the Census! The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting thousands of people across the country to help with the 2020 count. Click here for more info, including job details, how to apply, pay and locations, and FAQs.
  • Take Rock the Vote’s Pledge to be Counted!
  • Learn more:
    • Check out this site with lots of info about the California census.
    • Find out other ways you can partner with the 2020 Census.
    • Come to our September 29 All Members Meeting from 1-3 PM in Dublin. Indivisible Livermore’s Kyoko Takayama, an Alameda County Census Ambassador (read more about that program below), will speak about the census.

Alameda County

Apply to volunteer with Alameda County’s Census Ambassador Program! Ambassadors are trained to conduct outreach, keep their community informed, and host events to raise awareness about the census. Training and materials are provided. To learn more, check out this Census Ambassador Program flyer. Want to sign up? Apply online here. Note that there’s limited funding available to support individuals and organizations with financial need – apply by October 28 to be considered for a mini-grant. For more info, see ACgov.org’s Census 2020 webpage.

Contra Costa County

See Contra Costa County’s website for more info on census jobs for CoCoCo residents. Note that it refers to the same link we gave above to apply online for supervisory and non-supervisory jobs, at a rate of $25 – $27.50 per hour.

Contra Costa County census

In July, we asked you to speak out against the administration adding a citizenship question to the census, for many reasons, including that it would skew the census count by discouraging immigrants from participating. You helped win that battle, and now it’s time to help make sure that all of us are counted!

Photo: Abacus, by Hans Braxmeier 

 

My Ballot ‘Tis of Thee

If you’re on social media, you may be worried right now about being turned away at the polls, or your vote-by-mail ballot being rejected, or ending up at a place that won’t let you vote. We’re hoping California doesn’t have those horror stories … but we’ve got some tips to help you avoid even getting into those situations. And the best news is, many of these are things you can do NOW, before the November 6 Election Day!

Provisional Ballot: a last resort

Lots of people are giving advice on social media about how to demand a provisional ballot: “Give me a provisional ballot with a receipt as required by law when requested.” It’s true that in California and most other states poll workers must give you a provisional ballot and receipt if you believe you’re entitled to vote, but for a variety of reasons the workers believe you are not. It’s also true that this is a last resort, that many of the reasons a poll worker may try to turn you away can be addressed, and that some issues can even be taken care of NOW, before Election Day, to prevent most problems.

  • Are you registered to vote? Is all your info correct? Check NOW!
  • Check your polling place NOW! Make sure you go to the right place to vote – if you’re at the wrong polling place, your name won’t be on the voter list. If you do end up at the wrong place, before you ask for a provisional ballot, ask where your correct polling place is. Go vote there if you can make it before the polls close so you can vote on all your local measures. If you can’t figure it out or can’t get there, then ask for a provisional ballot and receipt.
  • Did you get a vote by mail ballot in the mail, but you didn’t mail it in? You can drop it off at your polling place on Election Day. You decided you want to vote at the polls instead? You should be able to do that if you bring your vote by mail ballot and envelope: they’ll probably ask you to surrender the vote by mail ballot and give you a new one. Don’t have your ballot with you? That’s when you ask for a provisional ballot.
  • Worried you’ll be told you don’t have the right ID to vote? You usually won’t be asked to show ID, although you might be if it’s your first time voting in a federal election in California. And it’s a good idea to bring ID with you anyway. Here’s more info; here’s the complete list for first-time voters; or you can call the Secretary of State’s toll-free voter hotline at 800-345-VOTE (8683).

Here is the CA Secretary of State’s excellent official resource on provisional voting; and here’s a excellent article on what to do if you’re turned away at the polls.

Finally, if your last-resort requests for a provisional ballot and receipt are denied, report this or other incidents to the Election Protection hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE.

Conditional Voting

Did you forget to register to vote, or did you move and forget to re-register? Little-known fact: you can still register and vote conditionally at your county elections office, or at certain other locations, up through Election Day.  Conditional voting is different from provisional voting, since provisional voting is for people who believe they are registered but are having problems.

Vote-by-mail ballots not secretly rejected

Worried because you’ve heard that in some states, untrained people are rejecting vote by mail ballots because the signature on the envelope doesn’t match the one on file? No fear – that won’t happen in California. By law, you must be notified and given the chance to correct or acknowledge your ballot signature if there is any discrepancy. (And in Alameda County at least, they don’t use untrained people, they have trained folks whose specific job this is – we were told that if there’s something distinctive about your signature that’s common between the two samples, they won’t reject the ballot.)

Skip the lines, vote early

Early voting has started in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Check with your county for deadlines, locations, and specific guidelines — generally you can vote early in person, or by filling out a ballot and dropping it off at a designated site. Why vote early? You beat the crowds, you don’t have to deal with harried poll workers or people who showed up at the wrong place or didn’t fix their registration and there’s no time to fix the problem … and if you need info, you can probably get through to your county elections office!

Follow up: check your ballot status

In California, you can check the status of your ballots. You can find out whether your provisional ballot was counted, and the reason why, if it was not. And if you voted by mail you can find out whether the ballot arrived at your county’s election office, whether the ballot was counted, and, if not, the reason why.

Read our recent article with more great info about voting in the mid-term election here.

Vote early, Vote often (every election, that is!)

Action deadline: Time’s nearly up! California election dates you need to know:

Early voting has started in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Check with your county for deadlines, locations, and specific guidelines — generally you can vote early in person, or by filling out a ballot and dropping it off at a designated site.

Did you forget to register to vote, or did you move and forget to re-register? Little-known fact: you can still register and vote conditionally at your county elections office, or at certain other locations up through Election Day.

Voter registration 101: 

  • Are you eligible to vote, but not registered? Pick up a paper application, fill it out and put it in the mail – no postage required! You can find a paper application at lots of places, including:
    • county elections offices
    • the DMV
    • government offices
    • post offices
    • public libraries
  • Do you want to register online? If so, you’ll need:
    • your California driver license or I.D. card number,
    • the last four digits of your social security number, and
    • your date of birth.

    Your info will be provided to CA Department of Motor Vehicles to retrieve a copy of your DMV signature. Don’t have one of those I.D.s, or have other questions? See more at the CA Secretary of State’s Election Division FAQ or contact them at 800-345-VOTE (8683) or by email.

  • Is your registration accurate? Check! Many voter registrations have errors – check yours. If you registered recently at the DMV, many of those were botched, so CHECK!
  • Do you need to re-register? Check here, and if you need to, please re-register. These are some (not all) of the reasons you must re-register to vote:
    • you moved since you last registered
    • you legally changed your name since you last registered
    • you want to change your political party
Learn more:
  • California voter hotlines: the Secretary of State’s office provides voting-related materials and assistance in ten languages. Call one of the toll-free hotlines for answers to your questions about voting and elections, or to request mail delivery of a voter registration form, vote-by-mail application, or the Official Voter Information Guide.
  • Read our earlier article, with information about your county’s election processes, pre-registering 16- and 17-year olds, voting for previously incarcerated people, and much more
  • See Vote.org’s California Election Center. Sign up for election reminders.
  • See the Voter’s Edge guide (a partnership of the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund’s Smart Voter and MapLight. It includes in-depth info about what’s on your ballot, and much more.

Send this info to your family and friends in states other than California:

  • Vote.org offers lots of information, and it’s easy to remember (it requires you to provide an email address).
  • Indivisible has partnered with TurboVote to help you sign up to get election reminders, register to vote, apply for your absentee ballot, and more
  • The National Association of Secretaries of States’ website helps eligible voters figure out how and where to vote

Want to do more?

June 5 Primary – Vote Now, Vote Then, Just Vote!

California’s June 5 Primary Election is fast approaching, with plenty of important races and initiatives on the ballot. Use your precious right to vote!

Early voting has started in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. You can vote early in person, or by filling out a ballot and dropping it off at a designated site.

Did you forget to register to vote, or did you move and forget to re-register? Little-known fact: you can still register and vote conditionally at your county elections office, or at certain other locations right up through Election Day on Tuesday June 5.

Did you know that some elections can – and will – be decided at the primary? In races such as for District Attorney, if a candidate receives a majority of the votes, they win and there will not be a runoff in November. Just another reason it’s important to vote in this (and every!) election.

 Learn more:

Send this info to your family and friends in states other than California:

  • Vote.org offers lots of information, and it’s easy to remember (note that it requires you to provide an email address)
  • Indivisible has partnered with TurboVote to help you sign up to get election reminders, register to vote, apply for your absentee ballot, and more
  • The National Association of Secretaries of States’ website helps eligible voters figure out how and where to vote

Register and Vote as if your life depends on it

Are you eligible to vote? Don’t squander that precious right — make sure you’re registered, and make sure your registration is accurate! The deadline to register for California’s June 5, 2018 primary is May 21, 2018.

Go through these questions right now to make sure your voice is heard and counted:

  • Are you eligible to vote, but not registered? Pick up a paper application, fill it out and put it in the mail – no postage required! You can find a paper application at lots of places, including:
    • county elections offices
    • the DMV
    • government offices
    • post offices
    • public libraries
  • Do you want to register online? If so, you’ll need:
    • your California driver license or I.D. card number,
    • the last four digits of your social security number, and
    • your date of birth.

    Your info will be provided to CA Department of Motor Vehicles to retrieve a copy of your DMV signature. Don’t have one of those I.D.s, or have other questions? See more at the CA Secretary of State’s Election Division FAQ or contact them at 800-345-VOTE (8683) or by email.

  • Is your registration accurate? Have you checked? Many voter registrations have errors – check yours.
  • Do you need to re-register? Check here, and if you need to, please re-register. These are some (not all) of the reasons you must re-register to vote:
    • you moved since you last registered
    • you legally changed your name since you last registered
    • you want to change your political party
  • Do you know any 16- or 17-year olds? They may be eligible to pre-register if they’ll be 18 by the time of the election. Check their eligibility and help them pre-register (either online or using the paper form) so they can vote once they turn 18.
  • Do you have a criminal record, or have you been incarcerated? You may still be able to vote! In California, you can vote if you’re not currently in state or federal prison, or on parole for the conviction of a felony.  Once you’re done with parole your right to vote is restored, but you must re-register.
  • Finally: ask everyone you know the above questions, and help them out if they need it.

Important dates and other info:

  • Register to vote by Monday, May 21, 2018
  • Statewide Direct Primary Election Day is June 5, 2018

Early Voting and other ways to vote:

  • Alameda County: the website tells you about early voting, voting by mail, dropping off your ballot, and more
  • Contra Costa County: early voting sites will be open Tuesday, May 29 through Friday, June 1 from 11 am to 7 pm, and Saturday, June 2 from 8 am to 5 pm

Learn more, and help register and pre-register voters!

Send this info to your family and friends in states other than California:

  • Vote.org offers lots of information, and it’s easy to remember (note that it requires you to provide an email address)
  • Indivisible has partnered with TurboVote to help you sign up to get election reminders, register to vote, apply for your absentee ballot, and more
  • The National Association of Secretaries of States’ website helps eligible voters figure out how and where to vote