Register and vote

With the upcoming presidential elections, it is more important than ever to register and vote.

Colette Reitenour, Illustrator

Younger demographics have lower voter turnout. (United States Census)

Voting is a part of every American’s civic duty. For those 18 and older, it is crucial to vote in the upcoming election held on Nov. 3. For minors, it is possible to register as young as 16.   

According to the United States Census, a total of 61.4 percent of adult citizens voted during the 2016 election. Over 75 percent of voters aged 65 and over submitted a ballot, while less than 50 percent of those aged 18 to 29 did.  

“There are so many issues that affect young people, college tuition and loans, the environment and the economy for example, that it’s necessary your voice be heard. Do you want a bunch of Boomers making these decisions for you?” English teacher Heather Cintas asked. 

Many young people hold the misconception that their vote doesn’t matter. It is common to feel as though one’s voice has no impact on presidential elections, especially with the electoral college, however, the younger generation as a whole can have a considerable influence. One’s vote has even more power on the state, county and city levels. 

If you have ever looked at how many votes a city council member gets, your vote has a tremendous impact. Take the Orange County Board of Supervisors: the people who said you should go back to school without masks or any social distancing. They are up for reelection,” history teacher Bruce Carlisle explained. “If more people cared about having people who took your health seriously, then you might have gotten a different outcome. That is how you can make your vote matter.” 

In 2018, California Gov. Gavin Newsom won with a margin of seven percent. This year, the O.C Board of Supervisors are up for reelection and your vote will have an effect on who is elected.  

First-time voters will need to register before they vote in any election. Even those who have voted in the past may need to submit a new registration form if they have changed their name, address or political party preference. 

New voters are not the only group that needs to register. For those aged 16 to 17, a pre-registration form can be filled out. Once an adult, this category will be eligible to vote in all elections. 

Visit registertovote.ca.gov to register online, or get a physical application at any DMV, public library or post office. This is a simple five-step form that asks for personal information. For physical forms, writing must be clear and in blue or black ink. The submission deadline for both online and by mail-in is Oct. 19 and allows 15 days to process the registration before Nov. 3. If this deadline is missed, it is possible to register on election day at your polling place. 

Once registered, voting can be done both by mail and in person. 

“Mail-in ballots are an easy way to vote, just make sure you send it in early. It’s also so much easier to research issues and candidates with the help of the internet, as long as you’re checking the credibility of your sources,” Cintas shared.

Within the registration form is the option to vote by mail. If yes is selected, the voter will receive a ballot for every election by mail. The ballot must be postmarked on or before election day and received by the county’s election office no later than three days after the election. 

A record number of citizens will be voting by mail in this election because of the COVID-19 threat, but the current administration has refused to fully fund the post office to ensure that ballots are delivered on time,” Government teacher Christopher Dollar stated. 

If you are worried that your ballot will not be received in time, it is possible to drop it off at one of your county’s ballot drop boxes, authorize someone else to drop it off on your behalf or bring it to a polling place between seven a.m. and eight p.m. on Election Day.

If no is selected on the registration form, it is expected that the citizen votes in person at a polling station. 

“Reflect on what your values are, and do your research on which candidates best reflect those values. Make sure to register to vote well before the election,” Dollar advised. 

Whether it be by mail or in person, honor your civic duties and be sure to vote in the Nov. Election. If you are too young, register early and encourage your friends and family to do so. There is no excuse for willingly having your voice be ignored.