Frank A. Theis Park, Kansas City, United States. Photo by Annie Bolin on

Madera County Part of Pilot Voter Program

By Marilyn Deleija

With many people disenfranchised in the 2016 election process, California sought out ways to make voting easier and more accessible. Senate Bill 450 addresses such citizen concerns as not knowing one’s correct polling place, having insufficient time to vote and not receiving the proper ballot.

The California Voter’s Choice Act, or SB 450, was passed in 2016 to modernize elections in California by allowing counties to conduct elections under a new model that provides greater flexibility and convenience for voters. This new election model allows voters to choose how, when and where to cast their ballot by mailing a voter ballot, expanding in-person early voting and allowing voters to cast a ballot at any vote center within their county. Participating counties beginning in 2018 elections are Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento and San Mateo.

Madera Votes, a grassroots voter engagement organization, intends to dispense information about the changes in the voting process throughout Madera County. Madera Votes, which since 2016 has canvassed local neighborhoods registering people to vote, believes these changes will lead to an increase in registered voters and a hassle-free voting process.

The California Voter’s Choice Act ensures outreach in underrepresented communities, including voters with disabilities and other disenfranchised populations. In Madera, a Language Accessibility Committee was formed and is working to make ballots available in more languages, such as Spanish and Punjab. The aim is to increase comprehension for people from all backgrounds with the hopes that they will vote with full confidence.

Workshops explaining the changes and the new voting process have been held with the hope that attendees will take what they learn and inform friends, family and other community members.

With the new practices that the Voter’s Choice Act brings, voters will have more time to turn in their ballot—up to 11 days before Election Day. Voters have cited many reasons that hinder their right to exercise their civic duty. Some of those reasons are limited hours of operation for polling places, lack of transportation and unawareness of their designated polling locations.

The Voter’s Choice Act gives registered voters plenty of time to plan ahead and vote on their own time and at a location convenient to them. Madera County is coordinating a bus route with local public transportation to ensure people have access to voting centers. Working with public transportation will help those who lack a mode of transportation and those who are unable to drive to reach the voting booth.

Madera County has embraced the Voter’s Choice Act and has been working diligently to make voting accessible, easy, inclusive and quick for everyone in the community. It is important the community support this initiative by turning out and learning about the changes in the process.

Key items in the new legislation:

Every registered voter in participating counties will receive a vote-by-mail ballot 28 days before Election Day.

Voters have three ways to return their ballot: by placing it in the mail, by dropping it off at a secure county drop box or by visiting any vote center in the county.

Traditional polling sites will be replaced by vote centers.

Voters may cast a ballot in person at any vote center in the county.

At any vote center, a voter may “vote in person, drop off their ballot, get a replacement ballot, vote using an accessible voting machine, get help and voting material in multiple languages, register to vote or update their voter registration.”

Vote Centers in

Madera County

Ballot and language assistance will be provided in English, Spanish and Punjabi.

Madera County Government Center (Lobby)

200 W. 4th St., Madera

May 26–June 4, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

June 5 (Election Day), 7 a.m.–8 p.m.

State Center Community College–Oakhurst Center (Room OC11)*

40241 State Highway 41, Oakhurst

May 26–June 4, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

June 5 (Election Day), 7 a.m.–8 p.m.

*This location is unavailable for the November 2018 General Election. An alternative location in the same community will be identified and published immediately following the June 2018 election.

City of Chowchilla Civic Center (Council Chambers)

130 S. 2nd St., Chowchilla

June 2–4, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

June 5 (Election Day), 7 a.m.–8 p.m.

Liberty High School (Theater)

12220 Road 36, Madera Ranchos

June 2–4, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

June 5 (Election Day), 7 a.m.–8 p.m.

Oak Creek Senior Living Community (Clubhouse)

46041 Road 415, Coarsegold

June 2–4, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

June 5 (Election Day), 7 a.m.–8 p.m.

John W. Wells Youth Center

701 E. 5th St., Madera

June 2–4, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

June 5 (Election Day), 7 a.m.–8 p.m.

Ballot drop box locations provide an additional way to return a ballot postage-free. Starting 28 days before Election Day, there will be at least one drop-off location for every 15,000 registered voters. Ballot drop boxes must be secure, accessible to voters with disabilities and located near public transport routes.

Ballot Drop Box Locations

Madera County Government Center (Exterior)

200 W. 4th St., Madera

May 8–June 5, 24 hours per day

Oakhurst Grocery Outlet

40301 Junction Dr., Oakhurst

May 8–June 5, 7 a.m.–9 p.m.

City of Chowchilla Civic Center (Exterior)

130 S. 2nd St., Chowchilla

May 8–June 5, 24 hours per day

State Foods Market–Madera Ranchos

37405 Avenue 12 #401, Madera

May 8–June 5, 7 a.m.–9 p.m.

All ballot drop boxes will close at 8 p.m. on Election Day (June 5). For more information, visit www.votemadera.com or the Madera County Elections Division (200 W. 4th St., Madera) or call 559-675-7720.

*****

Marilyn Deleija, a community activist from Madera and a member of Madera Votes, is fighting hard to get the community politically engaged. Contact her at marilyngarcia559@gmail. com.

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x