Riverside County has more ways to vote than ever, so make your voice heard

·3 min read

June 7 is Election Day for every voter in the State of California. For Riverside County, this is our first under a new model that makes it easier for voters to cast their ballot.

The California Voter’s Choice Act was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016 with the goal of increasing access to voting.

The law gave counties, whose registrars of voters conduct elections locally, more options for voters once a county opts in to the Voter’s Choice Act.

As of today, 27 of California’s 58 counties are “VCA counties.” I, along with The Desert Sun Editorial Board, have long pushed for Riverside County to adopt the Voter’s Choice Act.

Last December, after a few years of my bringing this topic up and advocating for this change, my colleagues on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors unanimously joined in making Riverside County a VCA county and taking this important step to modernize our election system.

Becoming a VCA county benefits voters in many ways.

Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel “Manny” Perez.
Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel “Manny” Perez.

For the first time, the county created an Election Administration Plan developed with input by members of the public. We now have plans laid out in advance for outreach and voter education, communications and language access. Riverside County is running web ads and will have radio and TV spots educating voters and communities.

One of the biggest changes with this model is that voters are no longer assigned to a single polling place. Poll workers will have the technology to look up voters, so they can vote seamlessly at any of the vote centers within Riverside County, not just at one specific library or community center.

What we want all voters to know for this election is that they have more ways and more days to vote:

  • We will have 26 locations in Riverside County that are open 11 days for voters to vote in person, starting Saturday, May 28, through Election Day.

  • In addition to these 26 locations, we will have 119 sites open for a four-day period, Saturday, June 4 through Election Day.

  • Voters can vote at any of the 145 vote centers they wish to vote at. They can also drop off their vote-by-mail ballot at these centers.

  • Every voter should have received their vote-by-mail ballot by now. Those can be returned in U.S. mail, at any of the vote centers on Election Day or before, or at one of 87 ballot drop-off sites May 9 through Election Day. No stamp is needed. Be sure to sign the back of the return envelope.

You can find the ballot drop-off site or vote center location that’s most convenient in your County Voter Information Guide. This information is also available on the Riverside County Registrar of Voters website, https://www.voteinfo.net.

(Editor's note: Monday, May 23, is the last day to register to vote for the June 7 primary. Find out more at VoteInfo.net or by calling the registrar at 951-486-7200.)

The 2020 election was the highest turnout presidential election in recent memory in Riverside County, and I was very encouraged and proud that this district, from the Coachella Valley to Blythe, was the leader in turnout for the county. From Sun City Palm Desert, the highest turnout precinct in California, to my hometown, Coachella, which saw more voters exercising their right to vote than ever before, our democracy is strengthened by greater participation in the electoral process.

According to a new report by the California secretary of state, many counties that have embraced this model have experienced higher voter registration rates and higher voter turnout.

With Riverside County becoming a Voter’s Choice Act county, we will be at the forefront of voter access and participation, and continue to improve how we do outreach, voter education, language access and more to address the diverse needs of our voters and communities.

Elections are important, and I hope everyone will use these new convenient and flexible options, and extra days of early voting, to vote in the June 7 election. My hat goes off to all election workers for the work you do to assist voters, conduct elections as reliably and smoothly as possible, and to keep self-government functioning.

V. Manuel “Manny” Perez represents the 4th District on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Reach him through his website at RivCo4.org.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Election: Riverside County has more ways than ever to vote | Column