Today Marks Last Day to Register to Vote in California Elections

Today marks the last chance to register for the 2018 midterm election, which is only 15 days away. At stake on Nov. 6: who will succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, California’s U.S. Senate seat, all of the state’s congressional seats, 11 statewide propositions and, in the South Bay, 34 ballot measures and 321 candidates running in 98 local races.

Those who have yet to register or need to re-register can take care of that online here or here before 11:59pm tonight. Eligible voters who miss the deadline can will submit a conditional registration form, which can be found at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters (ROV) office or at one of its early voting stations—not at a polling place.

Conditional registration, which gives prospective voters more time to sign up, became available on Jan. 1, 2017. Under the new law, voters who miss the 15-day registration deadline have a two-week grace period to stop by their local ROV office and file the required paperwork.

Paper registration forms are available at post offices, public libraries, fire stations, city halls and most government offices. If you don’t register online, you can by snail mail as long as it’s postmarked with today’s date.

Election officials urge prospective voters to sign up sooner rather than later. If you’re unsure whether you’re registered or not, check your status here or here.

To vote in this county, you must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen. not be imprisoned or on parole for a felony and not found mentally unfit by the courts.

“Voting is one of our most fundamental rights as citizens and the foundation of democracy,” Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey said in a news release. “The Registrar of Voters’ Office is here to answer your questions, register you to vote and make sure you are ready to make your voice heard on Election Day.”

SOMOS Mayfair, a San Jose community service nonprofit, issued the following statement on the the impending deadline.

Today is the last day for Californians to register to vote for the 2018 mid-term elections. Although 75 percent of all eligible residents in the state are already registered, we still have an opportunity to increase the number of engaged voters, especially in the immigrant community. With so much at stake on a local and national level, it is more crucial than ever that we remove the barriers that keep many immigrant communities from ever casting participating in the civic process.

In California, Latinos and Asian Americans register at lower rates than members of other groups, leading to an overall decline in our state’s registration rate. There are many barriers that lead to low turn-out rates among immigrants, including language barriers, fear of government institutions, and a lack of representation that causes feelings of exclusion. These are fundamental problems in our democracy that keep our most vulnerable populations from having a voice in initiatives, policies, and politics, and impacts whether their interests and rights are protected.

Every day, immigrants contribute to their neighborhood’s economy, culture, and legacy but are jaded about engaging in the democratic process. Until trust is established and we have a fuller participation of California voters, our policies and public institutions will regretfully be missing a greatly-needed diversity of initiatives and ideas.

The stakes are particularly high this November. In the last two years, we have seen a complete erosion of trust in government and the democratic process. People of color, low-income families, differently abled people, the LGBTQ community, the un-housed population, immigrants, women and children have been under attack, discriminated against and have been treated as less than human. The tides of extremism have felt overwhelming and have left many feeling disenfranchised.

Together, though, we are strong. We have the power to change the trajectory of our political future by going out to vote and shifting power back into the hands of people most directly affected by national policies and conversations.

We live in a great and diverse country, and our policies and leadership should more accurately represent that same vibrancy. As Californians, the nation pays attention to how we vote. Every voice matters in creating a more just and welcoming nation.

Whether this is your first or 50th election cycle, register today and turn out to vote this November.

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