The League of Women Voters of California is collaborating daily with the Secretary of State, elections officials, and civil rights groups to ensure fair and accessible voting this November amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Turnout of traditionally underrepresented groups is of special concern.
“The challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic are unique but not insurmountable,” reads an article on the State League’s website from April 20. “It is vitally important to understand that vote-by-mail (VBM) is not a panacea,” elaborates the State League and the other collaborating groups, listed at the bottom of this article, in a list of recommendations for the upcoming election. The list, sent to Governor Newsom and Secretary of State Padilla on April 14, cites multiple sources that report the risks posed by expanded reliance on vote by mail to already underrepresented communities, such as communities of color, youth, language minorities, people with disabilities, people with low income, and those who are unhoused, housing insecure, or geographically mobile.
“Changes to our voting process must be done in ways that will protect voters who are already underrepresented in our democratic system,” wrote the State League for their article. Accordingly, the list of recommendations has been assembled by advocacy groups carefully with the main, general objectives of maximizing voting opportunities, increasing voter education and engagement leading up to the election, and allocating resources dedicated specifically for underrepresented communities and those that do not traditionally vote by mail. The list is separated into categories that focus on vote-by-mail, in-person voting, poll workers, dropboxes, language access, disability access, voter registration and same day/conditional voter registration, provisional voting, elections administration plans (EAPs), public messaging, voter education, and voter engagement.
LWVBAE Action Director Jinky Gardner stressed that local efforts to boost voter turnout would be crucial this fall.
“I think those of us in the local areas need to figure out some ways to get out there and talk to people,” she said. Gardner then explained that attention would have to be paid to regions with traditionally lower voter turnout, such as South and West Berkeley.
“The LWVBAE will pursue its usual vigorous Voter Services efforts with emphasis on helping voters to sign up for vote-by-mail to comply as fully as possible with ‘sheltering in place’ directives which may still be in force at the time of the General Election in November,” said LWVBAE President Ruby MacDonald in a separate statement.
List of Groups in Collaboration
American Civil Liberties Union of California
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
California Common Cause
Disability Rights California
The League of Women Voters of California
Mi Familia Vota
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educationa Fund
Partnership for Working Families
Voting Rights Lab
–Karanina (Laszlo) Zim, Communications Intern
All League News