By now, all registered voters have received their ballots for the Nov. 8 election directly in mailboxes. CalMatters.org reports that next month, the number of female lawmakers could rise above California’s state legislature’s current record of holding 39 of 120 seats. 

Voters not only have a say in California state laws, but their votes also influence how those laws are enforced by elected mayors, councilmembers, supervisors, sheriffs and judges.

The early vote-by-mail voting period began Oct. 11 and some Vote Centers will be open during the early voting period.

Advocates recommend amplifying voices through social media, and making Nov. 8 a family event by showing up to vote.

Historically, the White House occupant’s party has tended to not perform well in midterm elections. 

“This is an important election, your voice is your vote,” said Recycling Black Dollars’ Crystal Mitchell at last week’s Community Briefing zoom meeting. “We the people have a voice. We vote them in, so they have to work for us.”  

To send a ballot by mail, it has to be postmarked by Nov. 8. There are multiple easy return options available: Return by mail, no postage required; or Use one of 400 Ballot Drop Box locations across Los Angeles County (see locations at https://tinyurl.com/mskm67fw); or drop off at any Vote Center beginning Oct. 29. Centers can be found at https://locator.lavote.gov/locations/vc?id=4300&culture=en.

Voters can track their ballot every step of the way with Where’s My Ballot? (California.ballottrax.net) — a free subscription that sends automatic notifications by text, email, or voicemail on the status of the ballot. 

College students

If out-of-state college students want to vote, they have two options: Submit a mail-in ballot to vote in their home state; or change their address and voter registration to the state where they are currently attending school, locate the nearest polling place, and vote in person.

Registering to vote in more than one state is illegal. Students can either register to vote in their home state or the state where they attend school.

They can find their designated polling place and mail-in options by visiting the election office website.

Voting climate

“I’m letting Black women and men know today that our vote counts more than ever, especially at the local level,” said Kara James, a nurse practitioner with Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. “According to the Center for American Progress, Black women are among the largest and most consistently engaged demographic groups in American politics nationwide. The overturning of Roe vs. Wade has only generated more energy among female voters, especially in California.” 

Advocates believe that this election is an opportunity to ensure that Black women use their influence to empower legislators to make laws that protect all women in California. Voting is a form of advocacy for choices, and the protection of the choices women have in the future regarding the lives they will lead. 

In light of the recent City Hall scandal, where three councilmembers were caught voicing racism on audio tape, the briefing group agreed that this election is one where residents could express themselves and take one step to nip racism in the bud.

“I decided that racism is a form of mental health. So in my world, in order for you to hate someone just because of the color of their skin — that is a mental health issue,” Constance Anderson of Lendistry said.

Registration

For those voting for the first time, Monday was the final day to register by mail, but eligible Los Angeles County residents who missed the deadline can still vote at any Vote Center in L.A. County. 

Under California Election Law, Conditional Voter Registration (CVR) allows a prospective voter to conditionally register and cast a ballot. There are three rules to register: Prospective voters must be U.S. citizens; they must be a resident of California; and they must be at least 18 years old.

Any eligible voter can go to any Vote Center in the county during the 11-day voting period. Once at the Vote Center, the eligible voter will complete the CVR application. The voter is then issued a CVR ballot to take to the new fully accessible Ballot Marking Device.

The voter’s experience reading and marking their ballot will be the same, however after the voter prints their paper ballot they will be instructed to return their paper ballot to an Election Worker.

As soon as the CVR application is verified, their ballot will be counted and the registration will become active. The voter may then vote in any future election in which they are eligible to participate.

Getting out the vote

Nationally, several groups are working to motivate Black Americans to stay involved in the political process. 

Teja Smith, Oakland native and current LA resident, is the owner of Get Social, a social media agency (www.getsocialwithteja.com/) that is behind social justice organizations like Rock The Vote. Smith has helped register more than 2 million millennials and Gen Z voters. One of the strategies is to go to Rams football games.

“We do text to codes – that’s when you see a number sometimes on a billboard or a moving screen on social media graphics,” Smith said, explaining that scoreboard viewers were urged to text to a certain number to get more information on voting. 

“We strive on being non-partisan, but still caring about issues,” Smith added. “It’s hard for Generation Z to connect to parties or organizations. They want political leaders to share values. Political parties discourage us sometimes in political voting, because we don’t want to choose a side.”

The goal of the Transformative Justice Coalition (TJC), the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), Rainbow Push, the Hip Hop Caucus, and others was to register 10 million more Black voters as they set out on a bus tour across the nation to blunt voter suppression and misinformation ahead of the all-important midterm elections.

“The buses are rolling … Minneapolis is the first stop,” declared Barbara Arnwine, the president and founder of the TJC, an organization known for its contributions to critical justice issues.

“We want people to celebrate when they vote,” Arnwine insisted. “We call it a celebration for every time we do a votercade. We have a Celebration Village.”

Arnwine said in one city, the mayor informed the coalition that voter turnout doubled after the votercade visited.

Good Trouble

“We went to another area in the poorest zip code in Milwaukee – one of the poorest in the nation,” Arnwine continued. “They had such a small polling site and didn’t expect anyone to turn out. But, when we finished, they had more people vote in that one day after the votercade than typically during the entire early voting season.”

NNPA President Benjamin Chavis, who has pushed the hashtag #10millionmoreblackvoters, reminded everyone that the midterms were important.

“We are going to all the major states, places where we know we can make a difference,” Chavis declared. “This tour is designed to make sure we awaken a lot of the sleeping giants in our community.”

With photos of the late Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis blanketing the Press Club for the news conference, Chavis called the coalition’s mission “good trouble.”

“We believe that we can get 10 million more Black voters. That’s a large number, but we believe that number could make a difference,” Chavis said. “Democracy is on the ballot on November 8. Racial justice is on the ballot on November 8. Climate justice is on the ballot, environmental justice is on the ballot, economic justice, and equity is on the ballot, and preventing far right-wing groups from banning votes is on the ballot.”

Arnwine added that the 25-city Arc of Voter Justice Tour is designed to ensure everyone understands that citizens’ right to vote is their voice.

During the votercade, participants will register to vote and check their voting eligibility while enjoying good food, music, games, and banned books as the coalition seeks to transform voting and the voting experience.

“A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than it is to get an assault weapon,” demanded Rainbow Push Coalition Executive Director Bishop Tavis Grant. “What is so dangerous about Black and Brown people who vote? What’s so dangerous about standing in line with a bottle of water or food or showing up early to vote?”

The Bishop said the danger is that “it shifts the power scale, and the have-nots have an opportunity to have their fair share.”

“A right is not something someone gives you. It’s something that someone cannot take away from you. That’s what this is about. It’s about restoring the right and the dignity of the voter. If your vote didn’t matter, suppression wouldn’t try to suffocate it. We need 10 million more voters.”

Our Weekly coverage of local news in Los Angeles County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.

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