At a Cal State San Bernardino virtual youth-centered webinar on the importance of voting, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla urged CSUSB students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to vote in the upcoming November election to make sure their voices are heard.

“I think it can all be summed up as having listened to my high school government teacher, ‘Our democracy works best when its many eligible people participate,’” said Padilla, who was the webinar keynote speaker. “But that hasn’t always been the case in practice throughout our nation’s history including California.”

The webinar “Mi Voto, Mi Voz, Mi Vida” (“My Vote, My Voice, My Life”) on Oct. 15 featured educational speakers and videos addressing topics that included: Why our voices matter; Registration, How/Where/When to cast your ballot; The different types of elections; and when they occur. A question-and answer session followed the videos and presentations.

The event was sponsored by the CSUSB Association of Latino Faculty, Staff and Students (ALFSS), Latino Education and Advocacy Days project (LEAD), Associated Students Inc., the Office of Community Engagement, Mi Familia Vota, NALEO, Ballot Bowl, San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters, and the Chicano Latino Caucus of San Bernardino.

Enrique Murillo, a CSUSB professor of education and the founder/director of LEAD, said it was important for all people, especially indigenous people, to participate in the political system and vote.

“Hence, our event today is a citizenry that is poised to participate and shape the U.S. political landscape through voting and civic engagement,” Murillo said.

CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales urged the viewers as well as CSUSB students, faculty and staff to register to vote, find out about the candidates and issues, and vote.

“Everyone here who is eligible but who has not yet registered to vote, I urge you to do so today,” Morales said. “Unidos, together, with our voices and our ballots, we will Define The Future.”

Padilla said his goal as California Secretary of State was to ensure all eligible registered voters had the opportunity to vote.

Over the last nearly six years, we’ve championed policies like online voter registration, automatic voter registration, more options on how people can cast their ballots,” said Padilla, who added that voter registration is at an all-time high and he is expecting a tremendous turnout for the November 3 election.

We have increased registration by millions; you heard 2018 was the largest turnout in a gubernatorial election since 1982. We had a record primary this year,” Padilla said. “Registration continues to climb; we had more ballots cast in the March primary than any primary election in California history.

But he said what should be considered are the people behind the registration numbers.

Who is it that has been historically disproportionately eligible, but not registered to vote? Who is that has been disproportionately registered to vote, but has been only an occasional voter, not a very consistent voter participating in every election?” Padilla asked. “We know it intuitively but the research tells us it is disproportionately young people, it is disproportionately working families and is disproportionately communities of color, especially Latinos here in the state of California.”

Padilla said that was one of his reasons for working to increase the number of registered voters.

“When you increase turnout, we know that the electorate is better representing the people and by extension, the representatives that are elected to all levels of government, federal, state and local, and the important policy issues that are decided at the ballot better reflect the people and the will of the people,” Padilla said. “So that’s why I do what I do and so passionate about it.”

Padilla said while every active registered voter in the state is receiving a vote-by-mail ballot to be able to vote from home, there are still opportunities to vote in person for voters who need to, whether it’s for accessibility issues, language assistance or even to participate in same day registration.

He said counties in the state will provide several locations over the course of several days and not just on Tuesday, Nov. 3. But safety precautions will be in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Padilla said in-person voters should bring face masks as the voting sites will be implementing physical distancing and other public health measures, including hand sanitizer for everybody and masks for those who need them.

“Don’t worry when you see the poll workers wearing masks, face shields, gloves that sort of thing. They’re doing all that to make sure to keep themselves and the voters safe,” Padilla said. “And yes, we’re cleaning all the voting equipment before and after every person who uses it.”

He also urged the viewers to visit the website, where all the voter information, tools and resources are available, including the link to Where’s My Ballot, the ballot tracking program available to all voters in the state that allows them to receive automatic notifications by email, text or phone call on the status of their ballot through the delivery process, from when it has been sent out, to when it has been returned, to when it has been received and when it has been counted.

“It’s great for transparency, great for accountability and great for peace of mind because vote by mail is safe and secure despite what you hear from other sources,” Padilla said. “In California proudly, we’re not going to make people choose between exercising their right to vote and protecting their health and that of their loved ones.”

To watch the “Mi Voto, Mi Voz, Mi Vida” webinar, visit the ALFSS – Association of Latino Faculty Staff and Students Facebook page.