COMMENTARY

Compton, vote to make a difference

in the governor’s recall election

By PAULETTE SIMPSON-GIBSON 

Special to California Black Media

An election to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom is currently underway.

Voters around the state have already begun returning their mail-in ballots. Sept. 14, Election Day, will be the last day to ensure our voices are heard. As your Compton NAACP president I encourage all members of our community to get out and vote either by mail or at the polls if you are registered. If you are not, you can still register to vote in-person.

There are two questions on the recall ballot. The first asks if you support recalling (removing) Gov. Newsom. If more than 50 percent support the recall, the current governor will be replaced. The second question lists all of the recall candidates vying to be governor and whoever gets the most votes will hold the office through January 2023, the remainder of Newsom’s term.

Like every election, the outcome is based on our collective participation to ensure our leaders pay attention to the issues that are most important to us. That’s why making your voice heard and your vote count is so important.

This special election will determine who will be in charge of the state’s executive branch.  Whether the current governor remains or is replaced, that person will be given the authority to make important decisions that impact your life and your access to important services—like funding for our public schools and how the state taxes you pay are used to support state programs.

He or she will also have to collaborate with the legislature on finding solutions to housing affordability and homelessness and lead the response to the historic drought and wildfires we’ve seen this past year. And they will be in charge of carrying out the state’s recovery from the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Compton NAACP wants the community to understand that our vote is our voice and that it is critical to be an active part of making our democracy work. The NAACP has been fighting for the right of Black Americans to vote for more than 100 years.

NAACP field secretary and pioneering civil rights activist Medgar Evers paid the ultimate price in the fight for the right to vote. On June 12, 1963, he was shot in the back in the driveway of his home in Jackson, Miss. Because of his sacrifice, and that of other racial equity fighters, the right to vote as a US citizen should never be taken for granted. Thankfully, our state makes voting so convenient that there is no excuse for anyone not to vote.

In 2016, California lawmakers passed the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA), which expanded early voting in Los Angeles County. Traditional polling places have been replaced with vote centers which serve as one-stop shops for all your voting needs.

At vote centers, you can vote in person, get help in multiple languages, cast your vote by using an accessible voting machine, and utilize same day registration to cast your ballot the same day. You can vote at any center in the county up to 10 days before Election Day.

All registered LA County voters have been sent a ballot in the mail. Returned ballots have already been counted. While the deadline to register expired on Aug. 30, you can still conditionally register and vote at any vote center up to and including Election Day.

Eligible voters can register on the Secretary of State’s website. If you are not sure, check your status there. The SOS also offers a tool to help you find early voting and ballot drop-off locations in your neighborhood. You can use the BallotTrax tool to confirm that your vote has been counted.

Now make sure your voice is heard in this critical election and vote!

 

Paulette Simpson-Gipson is president of the Compton NAACP.

Why we must vote in the California Recall election

By RICK L. CALLENDER, Esq.

On Sept. 14 a special election will be held to determine whether Gov. Gavin Newsom should be recalled. This is only the fourth time in American history that a state has held a gubernatorial recall election—and the second in California political history.

The last gubernatorial recall election in California occurred when Gov. Gray Davis was recalled in 2003. Davis was recalled 11 months after he was elected in November 2002 to a second four-year term. A total of 9.4 million votes were cast.

This recall election was calendared after the Secretary of State certified 1.7 million California signatures to a petition demanding a vote to remove Newsom from the office he assumed in January 2019. Under state law, to initiate a recall, proponents must collect the signatures of enough registered voters to equal 12 percent of the turnout in the prior governor’s race.

The recall ballot will ask two questions. The first is a simple yes-or-no question: should Newsom be recalled.  If 50 percent or more voters check “No,” then the effort to recall Newsom is defeated. However, if more than 50 percent check “Yes,” the second question comes into play: who should replace him?

There are 46 names on the ballot and the candidate with the most votes, as dictated by state law, will become governor for the remainder of Newsom’s term, which ends in January 2023. 

Your vote in this election matters

When we cast a vote, we win. We are represented. That’s the power that lies at the heart of the democratic process. It is the beauty of having free and fair elections.

 

Blacks Americans have a long history of effectively exercising their right to vote. Those who came of age prior to 1965—less than 60 years ago, believed voting was extremely important, particularly in the South, where they were systematically turned away from the polls. Once they secured the vote, refusal participate in an election was viewed as an abdication of their duty as Americans. 

The people we entrust with our vote to lead us—whether at the federal, state and local level—are responsible for developing policies and legislation that affect how safe we are in our homes and communities, our access to quality health care, education, and the financial opportunities available to us. 

Assault on the Voting Rights Act

The outcome of the 2020 presidential election cycle is an extension of the unprecedented assault on voting rights beginning with the Supreme Court decision, Shelby v. Holder, weakening the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This has led to more laws restricting our ability to vote. 

California has taken extraordinary steps to remove barriers and increase access to the polls, setting the national standard for what free and fair elections should look like. We cannot afford to be complacent and watch like spectators as our rights are rolled back, interests ignored, and power decreased. This recall election will be a crucial test of our will as voters.

Sometimes it seems like the democratic process occurs election-by-election, step-by-step, once every 2-4 years. But democracy does not work like that. It does not take a day off. It is a constant process, happening all the time, whether we choose to engage or not. It is messy, ugly, hard work.

Failing to vote is as much part of democracy as voting. Refusing to participate is a choice. 

Every registered voter will automatically receive a ballot. Vote by mail beginning Aug 16. The last day to register to vote is Aug. 30. However, voters can “conditionally” register to vote at their county elections office or polling location after the voter registration deadline, up to and including Election Day. It is an opportunity we must seize, regardless of party affiliation. Our democracy, our community, our lives depend on it.

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Rick L. Callender, Esq. is the president of the California/Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP, and serves as a member of the National NAACP board of directors.