There is no need to panic if you missed the deadline to register to vote.

California residents can register and vote through election day, said Fresno County Clerk Brandi Orth.

In order to do so, voters must go the Fresno Registrar of Voters’ office at 2221 Kern St.

“Elected officials are going to decide the future over the next four to eight years so they need to make sure they have a voice in what’s going on.” — Samuel Molina, the state director for Mi Familia Vota

The office is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day.

“We still have an opportunity for you,” Orth said.

Newly-naturalized citizens must have their naturalization certificate in order to vote, said Samuel Molina, the state director for Mi Familia Vota.

Importance of Voting

In this year’s primary election, only 31 percent of registered voters in Fresno County cast a ballot.

Orth hopes the extended deadline will encourage more people to turn out today.

“It is important for everyone [to vote], especially young people who will be the future leaders of our world,” Orth said.

Molina couldn’t agree more.

“The youth are the largest voting block throughout the country,” Molina said. “Elected officials are going to decide the future over the next four to eight years so they need to make sure they have a voice in what’s going on.”

The way Brandon Brown sees it, “it is fundamental that we vote.”

“People have a tendency to complain about things that are happening,” said Brown, a member of School Yard Rap. “While complaints are understandable, you have to have action behind those complaints.”

Increasing Voter Turnout

Increasing voter turnout is an ongoing effort, Orth said.

We are constantly encouraging everyone to vote,” Orth said. “As far as young people are concerned, we regularly go out to high schools and have students pre-register to vote.”

The county also has a “very vibrant” high school precinct officer program. Orth said hundreds of students in the program serve as paid election officers on election day.

From phone banking, door knocking and giving rides to polling locations, Molina said he and his staff have been doing their fair share in encouraging more people to vote.

“We are trying to make sure they receive their ballot and they know what’s going on,” Molina said.

All Starts With Education

One of the biggest ways to get more people to vote is through education, Molina said.

As he and his staff educate more individuals, they find that more are wanting to vote.

Mi Familia Vota also utilizes social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to target young voters.

“We are constantly encouraging the youth to make sure they are utilizing their voice to vote this election,” Molina said.

The organization’s high school youth program has also proved successful.

“It is important for everyone [to vote], especially young people who will be the future leaders of our world.” — Brandi Orth, Fresno County clerk

Brown has used School Yard Rap — a company dedicated to educating students through songs, music videos and other media — to inspire younger people to vote.

“There are so many times in this country’s history where we marginalized or disenfranchised people,” Brown said. “Because of that, voting is not something that should be taken lightly.”

Vote-By-Mail Ballots

Orth said the county issued over 280,000 vote-by-mail ballots for the upcoming election.

For the ballots to count, they must be postmarked no later than today (Nov. 6). Orth also has to receive them within three days after the election.

Orth said voters can also hand deliver the ballots at the Fresno Registrar of Voters’ office, drop them off at any polling location or any of the county’s 10 drive-thru locations.

Even if voters don’t vote on all the issues, Orth said some participation is better than none.

“Many people in the world don’t have the opportunity to vote,” Orth said. “We are afforded that responsibility as U.S. citizens and we encourage everyone to make their voice be heard.”

Watch Brown’s “A Brief History of Voting” Video

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