Have you registered to vote yet? It’s easy – register online today.
California Planned Parenthood Education Fund’s (CPPEF) My Vote, My Voice campaign is an inspiring effort to get as many Californians registered to vote before the state deadline of October 24th.
Their field staff have worked tirelessly, promoting CPPEF’s message of non-partisan support for the election and reaching out to traditionally underserved communities. Today CPPEF highlights the voice of yet another outstanding staff member.
Mikaila, who works out of Riverside, has been inspiring and encouraging her fellow staff members since day one, getting out there every day and sharing her experiences registering Latinos in her region. Read her responses below:
Why is voter registration important to you?
Voter registration is important to me because voting is one of the most important rights we are given in our democracy. As a voter registration organizer I experience the privilege of empowering people every day by providing them the resources and information that allow and encourage them to vote.
Voting is one of the easiest ways to enact change and to make our voice heard. I believe a democracy works best when every single person makes their voice heard at the ballot box.
What issues have you encountered in the field and how have you solved them?
A challenge I face every day out in the field is voter apathy.
Most of the time it is young people who are paying attention to politics for the first time and they are turned off and uninspired by this year’s presidential politics. They feel that there is nothing worth voting for, that their vote doesn’t matter, and that government isn’t working on their behalf, so why participate? This is exciting because I get the opportunity to engage with an apathetic citizen, find out what is important to them, and hopefully by the end of the conversation restore their faith enough so that they register to vote.
With someone who is unsure about voting I first level with them, validate their feeling that they don’t have good choices for president and that many times it does feel like the government isn’t working for them. Then I pivot to finding out what does matter. Is it marijuana legalization? Affordable health care? Affordable education? I can usually find an issue that resonates, and based on their answer I inform them about the specific proposition on the ballot that speaks to their particular issue. Then I remind them that the only way we will get a presidential candidate they like is if people like them show up to vote every time and that voting is a powerful and easy tool they can use to enact the kind of changes they want to see in the community.
What has been the most meaningful experience for you in this campaign so far?
The most meaningful experiences I’ve had so far registering voters has been registering older people who are voting for the first time because they have recently become citizens.
I’m at the Swap Meet bright and early every Sunday Morning at 6AM. The only thing that can get me up that early is knowing that I will be registering immigrants usually 50+ years of age who want to vote but are unsure about the process.
Oftentimes Latinos are skeptical as they approach my table and I exchange kind words in my broken Spanish that usually assuages them enough to take a look at the voter registration form. Once they sit down and realize how easy it is to register to vote, they are excited and asking questions. By the end of the exchange, they’re smiling and proud that they can finally be a full participant in the democracy of the country they have come to love so much. Registering one person like that (older, immigrant, recent citizen) is more valuable to me than registering 20 college kids. I am lucky enough to be able to be there in their community and provide them with a resource that nobody else has bothered to provide them yet.
Thank you, Mikaila, for your inspiring efforts to help register voters for the upcoming elections on November 8th.
CPPEF is proud of all their voter registration staff for making history on this project and is continually in awe of their determination and dedication to the mission. Remember to register to vote if you haven't already done so.