California Secretary of State Shirley Weber and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta hosted an event at Fresno State on Tuesday to discuss the importance of protecting and expanding voting rights, along with a panel of student political leaders and professors.
“The greatest challenge we face now, is getting our young people to vote,” said Weber. Just 30% of voters ages 18 to 36 participated in the last few elections, the panelists said.
“They should become really engaged in the whole democratic process, which is learning that voting is important, that you should vote in every election,” said Weber. “I want young people to understand that this is the power that they have.”
Huerta said she admires the passion many young adults show in marching and organizing protests, but says young people need to understand that real change only happens at the polls.
“The issues facing society today cannot be fixed if young people do not vote for laws than can’t be implemented and enforced,” said Huerta. “The students here have an awful lot of power just because of the numbers that are here at this campus and I hope that they really exercise the right to vote and not only that, but get their families, get their friends, get everybody here…”
Universal Mail-in Voting Now Permanent in California
To help expand election participation, Newsom signed 10 voting related bills on Monday, including one making universal mail-in voting permanent.
California now joins Colorado, Oregon, Hawaii, Utah and Washington in providing mail in ballots to voters statewide for county, state and national elections.
“People have more access to voting and it’ll be an easier process and then they’ll vote more often,” said Weber.
“As states across our country continue to enact undemocratic voter suppression laws, California is increasing voter access, expanding voting options and bolstering elections integrity and transparency,” Newsom said in a statement.
Weber Says Recall Process Needs Changing
In the most recent election — the attempted recall of Gov. Newsom earlier this month — about 13 million registered voters in California cast ballots. That equates to a turnout of approximately 62%, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
Weber addressed complaints by critics on both sides of the issue regarding the “fairness” of California’s recall process.
“Whether it was fair, it was fair because it was what the Constitution required,” said Weber.
But discussions are now underway about updating the state’s recall rules.
“We are now in the process of forming a group that will basically help us rewrite the the Constitution with regards to the recall elections,” Weber said.