Lots of young Latinos will turn 18 and be eligible to vote for the first time this year. There are also lots of Latinos in different age groups who haven’t voted or feel a little nervous about asking how to register. Not to worry; we break it all down right here.
Who can vote?
To vote, you must be a US citizen and California resident. You must be at least 18 years of age on or before November 3 (Election Day). For our new young voters, if you are 17 years old and will turn 18 on or before November 3, you may pre-register to vote. Currently, there are two groups of people who meet these criteria but are not allowed to vote: those who are in state or federal prison, or on parole for the conviction of a felony; and those who have been found mentally incompetent by a court.
Already registered to vote? Are you sure?
Even if you've voted in every single election in the past 20 years and have every reason to believe you are registered to vote, it doesn’t hurt to double-check. We’ve all heard stories of people who were accidentally – or maybe not so accidentally – deleted from the voter rolls. You don’t want to fill out a provisional ballot unless you absolutely have to, so take five minutes to verify your registration.
California makes it easy to determine your registration status. From one site, you can: check your registration status, register to vote, and/or pre-register to vote.
Click on “Check Your Registration Status” to verify that you are already registered. You will be asked to provide your first and last name, your California driver’s license or ID card number, the last four digits of your Social Security number, and your date of birth.
Make sure to verify that you’re registered in the right county. For example, if you used to live in Alameda County but moved to San Francisco County, you may show that you are still registered in Alameda County. If that case, you wouldn’t be able to vote in San Francisco County. If you are listed as registered in the wrong county from where you currently live, you must re-register in the county where you now live.
You must also re-register if you’ve changed your name, your address, or your political party choice. If you are not registered at all, you will need to register in order to vote in the November election. If you believe you should be listed as registered but aren’t, it’s no problem to re-register.
How to register
To register/re-register, click on “Register to Vote Now” from the same website link above. You will be asked about the eligibility requirements listed, your name, email address, birthplace, California ID or driver’s license number, the last four digits of your Social Security number, your race/ethnicity, and your home address. You can also choose whether or not to indicate your political party preference. If you were previously registered, you will be asked for the address of your previous registration.
That's it! You’re done! Now we can get prepared for the election on November 3rd. Unlike every other election in the past, it is important to have an election plan. Stay tuned! We’ll talk about it in our next blog post.
When to register
You'll need to register to vote at least 15 days before the election to be eligible to vote in the November 3 election. That means your voter registration form should be sent by October 19th at the very latest. If you submit a registration form after this date, you will still be able to vote. However, you will have to complete a provisional ballot. There's nothing wrong with provisional ballots, but they require a separate level of scrutiny. If at all possible, it's better to submit your registration form before the deadline.
Non-citizen registration in San Francisco
As with most things, San Francisco does things differently and better! In 2016, San Francisco voters passed Prop. N, which allows non-citizens to vote in School Board elections. However, the registration process for non-citizens is slightly different from the general registration process.
Non-citizens must submit a new Voter Registration Form to the Department of Elections before every School Board Election. This only applies to non-residents in San Francisco. Even if you voted in the last election, you must reregister to vote in November 2020. The eligibility requirements are also different for non-citizens. To vote, you must: be a San Francisco resident, with no plan of moving before November 3; at least 18 years old by November 3; be a parent, legal guardian, caregiver of child under 19; not in state or federal prison, or on parole for the conviction of a felony; and not found mentally incompetent to vote by a court.
Since the non-citizens registration and voting is unique to San Francisco, your registration form can be accessed at: https://sfelections.sfgov.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Voting/2020/N20_NCV_Registration_Form_EN.pdf
Pa'delante also provides the following notice that all interested non-citizen residents should consider before deciding whether or not to participate in the election.
Any information you provide to the Department of Elections, including your name and address, may be obtained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other agencies, organizations, and individuals. In addition, if you apply for naturalization, you will be asked whether you have ever registered or voted in a federal, state, or local election in the United States. You may wish to consult with an immigration attorney, an organization that protects immigrant rights, or other knowledgeable source before providing any personal information to the Department of Elections and before registering to vote in San Francisco Board of Education Elections.
Pa'delante recognizes the risks and impacts associated with non-citizen registration must be assessed individually, especially given our current political climate. As such, Pa'delante explicitly does not advocate one way or another on this issue. We simply offer our belief that non-citizen families should not have to risk deportation and/or family separation in order to advocate for their school-age children. Pa'delante will continue to promote this basic maxim.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at: [email protected].