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California citizens encouraged to go out and vote

After a strenuous year that has brought vast amounts of panic and divisiveness, Americans are encouraged to exercise their right to vote this fall.

By Marcos Franco, Staff Writer

As the United States heads into the 2020 presidential election, voters face an important opportunity in electing a leader to serve our country for the next four years.

With Election Day less than two weeks away, Americans have already begun filling out and mailing their ballots. This year, Californians are not only given the opportunity to elect a president, but also decide whether rent control increases and how their tax dollars are spent. Los Angeles Community College District officials are encouraging all students who are registered to practice their right to vote this November.

“November 2020 is a ‘high stakes’ election at the local, state and national levels,” said LACCD Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez. “It is important that everyone who is eligible to vote exercises their constitutional right to make their voice heard and counted.”

California holds the most electoral votes in the country at 55. All those electoral votes go towards the candidate chosen by the majority of voters in the state. Since there are 538 total electoral votes, a candidate needs 270 to be elected. As of Sept. 4, 84.68 percent of eligible voters in California have already registered, an 11 percent increase from this time during the 2016 election.

All registered voters in California were sent mail-in ballots this year whether or not they requested one. This follows an executive order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom to offer Californians a non-contact form of voting. In-person polls will also be available beginning Oct. 24 for those wanting a more traditional style of casting their ballot. All individuals will be required to wear face coverings as well as maintain social distancing guidelines. Surfaces including ballot marking pens will be regularly sanitized and masks and gloves will be provided if needed to ensure voter safety. Voting centers will be open everyday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with adjusted hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Earlier this month, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation announced plans to provide free service for both rail and bus riders on Election Day, Nov. 3. Mail-in ballot drop boxes have also been placed at 19 rail and bus stations throughout the county. The Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder’s office will also offer mobile vote centers in order to accommodate those with a crammed schedule amidst the pandemic. This service caters to essential workers such healthcare and utility employees that want to vote in person but may not have the time to do so. Mobile stations will alternate locations daily between Oct. 24 to Nov. 2.

"We want to make it easy for people to reach the polls or vote by mail and cast their ballot this election,'' said Metro CEO Phillip Washington. “Democracy works best when everyone participates in it and has a voice, and we want to ensure that voting is easy and accessible to all those who rely on the Metro system.''

Valley College, along with the eight other schools in LACCD, will serve as vote centers this election. For voters looking to avoid lengthy lines on election day, an official ballot drop box is also currently available on campus along Burbank Boulevard next to parking lot G.

In recent weeks, California has struggled with phony pop up ballot drop boxes deceptively labeled “official.” On Oct. 12, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla as well as Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a cease-and-desist order demanding the boxes be removed immediately. Voters can search for official drop boxes in their location on the California Secretary of State website.

Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Rock the Vote are encouraging voters to take action and avoid sacrificing their voice by not casting their ballot. Voting is the opportunity to stand up for what individuals believe in. From transportation to school funding, it is up to voters to decide the future of the state and country.

Rebecca Lowell Edwards, the chief communications officer for the ACLU, said in a press release, “We’re calling on voters to make a plan, request their ballot where they can, and to encourage their friends to do the same.”

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