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California has some of the most efficient, disability-friendly, and secure ways for eligible voters to cast their vote. This year, for the first time, California is going to be part of “Super Tuesday”. This gives California more relevance and influence in the election than it had in the 2016 presidential primary.

According to Ballotpedia, Super Tuesday refers to the Tuesday in a presidential election year when the largest number of states and territories hold a presidential preference primary or caucus. In 2020, Super Tuesday will be held on March 3.

Super Tuesday 2020 includes: Alabama, American Samoa, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.

My state, California, has a total of 415 Democratic pledged delegates to distribute, and 172 Republican delegates to distribute. Texas has 228 Democratic pledged delegates to distribute, and 155 Republican delegates to distribute. Together, these two states will have a huge impact on the presidential election.

If I remember correctly, California’s presidential primary was held in June in 2016. That put us toward the end of the primary election, and meant that we wouldn’t have as much impact on the final outcome. Moving it earlier, to Super Tuesday, allows my state – and its huge population of eligible voters – to have more influence.

The candidates that win the presidential primary in California could potentially make people who vote later in the primary election season reconsider who they planned to vote for. Some candidates may become unviable after Super Tuesday if they failed to get enough votes or delegates. Others may end their presidential run as a result of Super Tuesday.

It is entirely legal for California to join Super Tuesday. Doing so might offset the Electoral College imbalance. According to The Conversation, The Washington Post reported (shortly after the 2016 election) about the value of certain state’s electoral college votes.

…For example, as the Washington Post noted shortly after the election, Wyoming has three electoral votes and a population of 586,107, while California has 55 electoral votes and 39,144,818 residents. Distributing the electoral vote evenly among each state’s residents suggests that the individual votes from Wyoming carry 3.6 times more influence, or weight, than those from California…

The Washington Post article is inaccessible unless you purchase a subscription. I choose not to link to websites that exclude readers who cannot afford to pay for a subscription.

Qualifications to register to vote in California require a person to:

  • Be a United States citizen and a resident of California
  • 18-years-old on Election Day
  • Not currently in a federal prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony
  • Not currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court.

California has made it easier for eligible voters to vote. Here is a quick look at some of those opportunities:

  • People who are 16-years-old, or 17-years-old, can pre-register to vote. They still cannot vote until they turn 18-years-old. When they reach that age, they are automatically eligible to vote.
  • California allows same day voter registration. It is a safety net for Californian’s who miss the deadline to register to vote or update their voter registration information for an election. Eligible citizens who need to register or re-register to vote within 14-days of an election can complete the process at their county elections office, polling place, or vote center. Their ballots will be processed and counted once the county elections office has completed the voter registration verification process.
  • College students, and Californians who are living abroad, can vote. Students need to choose if they want to register to vote using their “home away from home” address that they use at school, or if they want to register at their traditional home address. They must pick one or the other – not both. California voters who are living abroad can vote by mail.
  • The California Motor Voter program makes registering to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) more convenient. Eligible applicants who complete a drivers license, identification (ID) card or change of address transaction online, by mail, or in person at the DMV will automatically be registered to vote.
  • All eligible California voters can register to vote online.
  • California allows eligible voters to vote early. Or, a voted can choose to vote on Election Day.
  • All eligible voters can request a paper ballot that will be sent to them by mail – and that can be mailed to the County Clerk’s office by mail (without requiring a stamp). It is also acceptable to bring your completed ballot to the County Clerk’s office and return it in person. California does not limit voting by mail to those who can show proof of disability, or those who are past a certain age.

My husband and I have voted by mail in the past, and we did so for the 2020 presidential primary. Both of us are disabled. He is legally blind, and the tiny print on ballots at voting booths is too small for him to read. I have chronic illnesses that often make it dangerous for me to go outside.

It is easy to see why those issues could make it impossible for us to cast a vote if we lived in a state that restricted vote-by-mail, or that does not offer it at all. My husband wouldn’t be able to see the ballot very well, and I might not be healthy enough to go outside on Election Day. We would both be disenfranchised due to disabilities.

Paper ballots are more secure than ballots cast on a voting machine. Mashable posted an article titled: “Security experts warn that ‘high tech’ voting and elections don’t mix.”. It was written by Jack Morse. From the article:

…Speaking to a crowd of security industry professionals in the main hall of San Francisco’s Moscone Center Tuesday morning, RSA Data Security founder and the current MIT professor Ronald Rivest criticized voting tech like the now infamous Iowa Caucus app.

“Voting is a place where you don’t need high tech to make it work,” he explained. “You can get by just fine with paper ballots, and if you keep that as your foundation – and if you do use the technology, use the paper ballots to check on it – you can do very well.”

This argument, that paper ballots are a strong method to ensure the integrity of the vote is not new. Experts like Georgetown’s Matt Blaze have long made that point, while at the same time cautioning that paper ballots are “only a tiny part of a complex problem space, and even that has notoriously difficult tradeoffs associated with it.

In other words: Yes, paper ballots are important, but they’re only one important part of a complicated whole…

NOTE: Mashable did include a link of their own in the portion of the article I have added here. I chose to substitute their link about the Iowa Caucus app with a link to my own writing about it.

Electronic voting machines are less secure than paper ballots. For example, The Dallas News reported (in 2018) that some voters said their straight-ticket ballots switched candidates to the opposite party. The company that made the voting machines said the machines don’t do that.

…Several voters have complained to Texas election officials that their votes for Rep. Beto O’Rourke switched to Sen. Ted Cruz, or vice versa, on Hart InterCivic’s eSlate machine.

Houston resident Mickey Blake told KTRK-TV (Channel 13) that she voted straight-ticket Democrat, but on the final review screen, she noticed all Democratic candidates were selected except for O’Rourke. Cordel Hosea of Fort Bend County told the station that the same thing happened to him…

Voting by mail, on a paper ballot, gives people the opportunity to sit at home, look up information about the candidates and propositions that are on the ballot, and take their time to vote. I do this every year with my paper, mail-in, ballot.

Last year, I didn’t manage to fill it out until shortly before Election Day. This year, I made an effort to do better. California’s Election Day is March 3, 2020. I filled out my paper ballot on February 12, 2020.

This year, we did not receive nearly as much “propaganda” from candidates and political parties as we have in the past. Perhaps moving California into Super Tuesday cut down on that.

The majority of the flyers and papers we got came from two candidates. One was Mike Bloomberg, who sent us several flyers about individual issues. Four of them arrived on the same day. It sort of feels like Bloomberg is functioning like an ex-boyfriend, who thinks he can win back the person that broke up with him if he just keeps sending them notes.

The other batch of “propaganda” was either from a local candidate, or was about that local candidate. The ones from the candidate were an attempt to make them look as good as possible. The ones from their opponents reminded votes about the shenanigans that this candidate, and their partner, allegedly had been involved in.

I say “allegedly” because, as far as I know, nothing has been 100% proven. I also say “allegedly” because this particular candidate is has a tendency to file lawsuits against those who speak ill of them.

I have a very strict rule when it comes to voting. I always vote for the candidate that frightens me the least. This year, I got a card in the mail that asked me to officially pick a party. I’m fairly certain that I picked “no party” for the 2016 presidential primary.

This year, I registered with the Democratic party. I found several of their candidates to be interesting, and had spent a lot of time looking up details of their various plans.

I don’t necessarily consider myself to be a Democrat, and have at least considered candidates from both the Democratic party and the Republican party in the past. Overall, the Democrats scare me less than the Republicans did. This year, like many other people, I’ve had quite enough of the awful plans that have come from the Republicans, so I’m not going to vote for anyone from that party.

My first choice candidate ended his campaign the night before I filled out my ballot. There were also several other candidates that had dropped out, but still appeared on the ballot.

To me, it didn’t make any sense to vote for someone who stopped running, in part because they probably won’t be listed on the ballots in every state. A candidate in that situation is unlikely to get enough votes to win in a given state, and doesn’t stand much of a change of getting a high number of delegates. It seemed to me that voting for a candidate who is no longer running for president was a wasted vote.

So, I selected a different Democratic candidate who has some policies that are extremely similar to those of my first choice candidate. Honestly, there were four Democratic candidates that I would be fine with if they become the next President of the United States.

I used a pen to fill in a bubble and voted for the candidate that I think is a good choice and who is definitely still running.

Next, I needed to vote for a State Representative (in the U.S. House of Representatives). My current representative is on the ballot. They are a Democrat, and I’m honestly thrilled with the work they have done. The other options are a Republican and a “none” party candidate whom I have never heard of.

I used a pen to fill in the bubble next to the name of the Democrat who I already know does good things and will continue to do them.

The ballot then asked me to vote for a member of the California Assembly. The choice was between a Republican man who periodically sends flyers to me in the mail, and a Democratic woman who was one of the organizers of our local Women’s March.

I used a pen to fill in a bubble and voted for the Women’s March organizer.

The next thing to vote on was for a County Supervisor. There were two Democrats to choose from. One was a guy who has made some questionable choices (in my opinion). The other was a lady who wants to help homeless people to get what they need, and also wants to help protect our beaches.

I used my pen to fill in a bubble voted for the nice lady.

The last thing in the ballot was a proposition. A proposition is something that is proposed by an eligible voter (or group of eligible voters). It must get a certain amount of signatures in a specific span of time in order to be put on the ballot.

In short, this proposition was asking for a “yes” or a “no”. Do I want to have the state of California spend money on removing asbestos and mold from schools, ensuring that students have access to clean water by replacing pipes that are contaminated with lead (or other bad things), and to retrofit school buildings for earthquake and fire safety?

Firefighters and teachers are for this proposition. One guy, who apparently hates paying taxes, is against it.

I used my pen and filled in a bubble and voted to improve the schools.

In total, I voted for: three women and two men. One person has Jewish heritage, two have Hispanic heritage, two are white. All of them had wonderful ideas.

I want state and federal government to be more representative of what America actually looks like. I’m not a fan of the Republican party, that is overwhelmingly white and male. California has a diverse population – and I want the government to reflect that.

There were a few things to do before I could turn in my completed ballot. One was to remove the tab from the top of it. I keep these strips of paper because I am always concerned that it will be the last time I have the opportunity to vote.

The other thing was to put the ballot into the envelope and seal it. I am able to put the ballot in the envelope. But, sealing it isn’t safe for me. Did you know that adhesives, like the kind that you have to lick to close an envelope, can contain gluten? Well, some of them do. I left it for my husband to seal for me.

Instead of mailing in our vote-by-mail ballots, we decided to take them downtown to the County Clerk’s office ourselves. In the past, we were able to go into the building, hand our ballots to a person who worked in an area where people could turn in ballots, and receive an “I Voted” sticker.

We planned ahead and learned what time the building would be open. It just so happened to correspond with the time when a scheduled power outage was going to occur where we live.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the County Clerk’s office, it turned out to be closed. We discovered that the building had a built in box where people could turn in completed ballots. It looked something like a library drop box, where people could return library books.

My husband dumped in his ballot, and I gave him mine to dump in as well. I took this rare opportunity of me going outside to play Pokémon GO, and was in the middle of a battle with Rocket Team at the moment.

We have voted!

How I Voted in the 2020 Presidential Primary is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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