It is common to hear about people who just don’t want to engage in the presidential race this year. Apathy around the upcoming election is alarming, to say the least. Whether people are voting for a candidate or decidedly against the other, one truth remains the same, voting is a key component in our democratic process. All votes are voices, and they must be cast and counted.  There is more at stake than just who will be president.  This election and ballot will directly impact our lives and communities. As described by Shaina Brown of CALCASA, “During election season, our role as a coalition is not to tell our constituents and members how to vote, but to elevate the issues of sexual assault and make sure that the needs of all survivors and our member agencies are clearly articulated.”  We urge you to make your voice count on November 8.
As a non-profit organization, a coalition of 84 member centers, with an  even larger constituency, there are many ways that elections impact our work at CALCASA. Factors beyond the presidential election are often overshadowed in a general election year.  Indirectly tied to the presidential election, and election of our representatives this year is the appointment of our next supreme court justice. In addition, for this year alone, California has statewide elections including a Senate seat, 17 ballot measures (ranging from a plastic bag ban to ending the death penalty), and our local elections. Statewide/local representatives and initiatives directly influence the day to day work against sexual assault and the lives of every member and constituent. Our state and federal representatives fill the very seats that vote on and advocate for decisions that impact our capacity to engage, operate and advocate for survivors and a California free of sexual violence. When discussing issues of restorative justice and the criminal justice system, our officials play a huge role in how we can support survivors, their interactions with perpetrators, with communities, and the resources they all utilize.
While being overwhelmed this election season can be easy, there are resources like the Voter Engagement Guide,  and Voter Information that the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and CALCASA pieced together for all members and survivors to utilize. It’s imperative that survivors understand there are safe ways to register to vote and ways for centers to promote voter participation and engagement without running into issues as a non-profit organization. While it’s not our role to tell our audience how to vote, there is a necessity to promote voter registration and the importance of voting for those who have the privilege this election.
There are three points I try to get across to people I am connected to, and I know have the privilege/opportunity to vote:

  1. The CA Voter Registration deadline is: Monday, October 24, 2016
  2. Voting this election is imperative BEYOND the presidential election
  3. Your vote is YOUR voice

During election season there are often misunderstandings of who is eligible, what’s at stake, and how a person can vote (by mail, in person, at the polls). By becoming informed members we can help promote, educate, and engage our constituents voting in this coming election.