Valley Voices

Are you 16? You can pre-register to vote now – sweet!

Over the next two weeks, adults and teens 16 and older are encouraged to register or pre-register to vote.
Over the next two weeks, adults and teens 16 and older are encouraged to register or pre-register to vote.

Do you remember the excitement that came with the anticipation of getting your driver’s license?

Even though times have changed, today’s teens still feel that same sense of excitement! Wouldn’t it be inspiring if those teens looked forward to pre-registering to vote with that same excitement? We are working on that!

High School Voter Education Weeks are happening now and are officially designated as Sept.18-29. This time frame includes a special day, designated as “National Voter Registration Day” on Sept. 26, During these two special weeks the California Secretary of State is encouraging all eligible 16- and 17-year olds to pre-register to vote.

Pre-registration does not change the voting age, which is still 18; instead, it allows citizens, ages 16 to 17, to complete a voter registration application. By completing this application, their voter registration will become active automatically when they turn 18. What a great birthday present!

Here at the Fresno County Clerk/Registrar of Voters office, we continually strive to engage young people in the voting process. We have contacted high school principals throughout Fresno County with information on pre-registration to share with staff and students.

Since January, the Fresno County Clerk/Registrar of Voters office has already received approximately 290 pre-registration applications. We estimate that there are over 40,000 high school students eligible to register and pre-register in Fresno County, and we hope to see the numbers of pre-registration applicants continue to grow.

Parents who register and vote can create a legacy of participation for their children. That legacy of participation allows you to impact outcomes and change the debate, focusing the discussion on those issues most important to you.

111 races were decided by 100 votes or less since 2019. Three races were decided by only one vote.

While national elections get the media attention, local elections (like those coming up in November 2017 and June 2018) in many ways have a more direct impact on people’s lives; including the quality of roads and transit systems, the schools their kids attend, parks and green ways, public safety and more.

Every eligible voter should exercise his or her right to be heard at the ballot box this year and next.

Since 2010, in Fresno County, 111 races were decided by less than 100 votes. Three races were decided by only one vote. A single vote does matter.

National Voter Registration Day is the right place to start by getting registered. You must be a citizen, 18 years or older by Election Day, not in jail or on parole for a felony and not currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court. Paper registration cards can be found at the County Clerks’ office, U.S. Post Offices, DMV offices, libraries and local city halls. You can also register to vote online at: registertovote.ca.gov.

Please remember that if you already are a registered voter, you must re-register whenever you move, change your name or wish to change your registered political party preference. Many people will update the post office and the cable company with their new address but forget to notify the County Clerk’s office when they move.

You can quickly and easily verify if you are a registered voter and your specific information at http://www.co.fresno.ca.us/elections.Use our application “Fresno County …. VOTES” to confirm your registration profile, your Vote by Mail status and you can also learn the districts in which you reside.

It is important to the future success of our nation, state and local communities that we ensure that our young adults become active and engaged participants in our democracy. On Tuesday, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors will proclaim Sept. 18-29, 2017 as High School Voter Education Weeks and Sept. 26 as National Voter Registration Day.

You can also join the ranks of citizens who become more active in civic affairs by serving as a precinct officer on Election Day. Remember, if you don’t participate, if you don’t vote, by your inaction, you are letting others decide who wins and what issues matter. Be the difference and vote!

Brandi Orth is the Fresno County Clerk and Registrar of Voters. Connect with her at BOrth@co.fresno.ca.us.

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