Let People Vote, the second People Power initiative, launched on October 1, 2017, and consists of specific calls to action around four themes:
Election reforms to update the voting system and make voting easier;
Countering voter suppression policies that make it harder for people to vote;
Rights restoration proposals that give voting rights back to people who have repaid their debt to society; and
Redistricting reforms to stop corrosive partisan gerrymandering.
In California the goal is to make same day registration a reality for all eligible voters. There is a already a law allowing people to register and vote in the two weeks before and on Election Day, but you can only do so at your county elections office, limiting the accessibility of this option.
The Voter's Choice Act (VCA)
San Mateo County is one of 5 counties (along with Napa, Sacramento, Madera, and Nevada Counties) that implemented the Voter’s Choice Act of 2016 reforms for the June 2018 elections. The Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) expands options for how, when, and where to vote. Most importantly, it includes the option to register to vote and cast a ballot up to and including Election Day at any of 39 Vote Centers in the county. Vote Centers began opening 29 days before Election Day, and all were open for four straight days leading up to Election Day.
With same-day registration available as a result, SFPPP decided to focus on working to inform and motivate registered voters and potential voters to get out and vote using their newly available options.
Our efforts were two-pronged: to increase the number of registered voters, especially among younger citizens, who have low registration rates; and to help in the implementation and rollout of the Voter’s Choice Act.
We conducted voter registration drives at many San Mateo County high schools and community colleges. We also had tables at local events, like the March for Our Lives and Keep Families Together rallies, where we registered attendees. We registered over 500 people at these events, and an equal number were expected to register online afterwards.
Voter's Choice Act
To help make the VCA successful, we provided written feedback on the County’s Election Administration Plan, to ensure that the needs of all communities were addressed. SFPPP has representation on the County’s Voter Education and Outreach Advisory Committee, as well as on the Voter’s Choice California San Mateo hub.
We also did outreach to communities with historically low Vote-by-Mail turnout, which would be most affected by the absence of small local polling places. Over three months we:
Worked with over two dozen community groups.
Made 15 live presentations about the VCA.
Hosted tables at 18 events where we registered voters and educated people about the VCA.
Provided educational VCA materials to 27 other organizations and 40 former polling places.
Based on information from the Elections Office website, the VCA rollout looks like a success: there was significant increase in turnout for this past election, and a larger base of registered voters.
In the June 2014 primary, there were 354,994 registered voters; voter turnout was 27%
In the June 2018 primary, there were 388,298 registered voters; voter turnout was 44%
We will continue to do voter registration drives along with voter education and outreach, including to language minority communities, older adults, young adults, and those currently or formerly involved with the criminal justice system.
Read assessments here of the VCA rollout from officials of the five counties that implemented it for the June primary.