Churches and Voting
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Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying, “We in America do not have government by the majority - we have government by the majority who participate. All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Churches can make a significant difference in an election by:
1. Encouraging their attendees to be registered to vote. That can be done on campus or at some public venue that has voter registration forms.
2. Encouraging their attendees to vote.
3. Providing voter information for their voters. Many voters don’t vote because they don’t know who the candidates are. A trusted voter information packet can fill that gap.
What does this look like in actual practice?
First, what not to do. NEVER TALK PARTY. ONLY TALK ISSUES. This cannot be over-emphasized. Talking party rather than issues, for example, Democrat vs. Republican, is a surefire way to cause a huge argument within any group, including a church. On the other hand, talking issues is not as controversial and actually can be uniting. Pro-life, traditional marriage and parental rights are all issues that Christians agree on regardless of party.
What to do.
1. A successful voter drive effort takes at least one committed person assigned to be in charge. That person, and preferably persons, needs a table, pens and in case of inclement weather, a place protected from the elements.
2. Most folks are registered to vote but not all are. During COVID and since, ballots are mailed out about one month before the actual election day. Getting folks registered to vote 2 to 3 weeks before the ballots are mailed out is important. Forms are available at the County Registrar of Voters.
3. Getting folks to vote is great but they also need to be informed. Most folks are busy making a living and raising a family. They don’t know which candidates share their worldview. A voter information packet is vital.
4. Because of revised voter laws in California, ballot harvesting during the election is legal. Churches can do that although there are a couple of simple rules that must be followed. See next section for those guidelines.
Ballot Harvesting Guidelines
• The ballot collection container must not be represented as an official county drop-off box.
· It is not required that the collection container be locked but it is good practice for it to be supervised at all times. This is easier to do if at least two persons are present. Questions come up which can be answered while the second person keeps an eye on the ballot container.
· As ballots are returned, it should be verified that the ballot envelope has been properly filled out. That usually only takes a glance. Signature and address filled in.
· The one receiving the ballot is required to sign the ballot envelop in the designated area located in the top left corner of the ballot envelope. This doesn’t need to be done immediately but the ballots are required to be turned in within 72 hours (three days).
· That same person who received the ballot is then required to drop off the ballots at a county-sanctioned ballot drop-off location. Again, ballots cannot be held more than 72 hours (three days).
Taking the ballots directly to the County Registrar of Voters may not be convenient but it is the safest way.
Resources for Voters Who Have Questions
Having a Pro-life Voter Information Packet available for voters eliminates most questions but there can still be some such as the following:
I moved since the last election. Do I need to re-register?
The answer is Yes. If you have moved (changed your address) since the last election, you need to re-register. Additionally, if you have recently turned 18 or are about to, you are eligible to register to vote.
Am I registered?
This information is found at voteinfo.net. The full ULR is found below but going to that website, then clicking on Am I Registered, a form appears. Filling in that simple form lets a voter know their voting status.
I haven’t received my ballot.
If the voter has moved since the last election is one of the reasons for not getting a ballot. If not, the usually it is just a delay in the mail. Give it 3 or 4 more days to see if it arrives. If it still hasn’t arrived, call the registrar of voters. For our area that would be the Riverside County Registrar of Voters. 951 486 7200.
Who do I vote for?
The advice for Christians is to vote pro-life. However, sometimes, especially in the Primary Election, there are multiple candidates who say they are pro-life. This is always a tough call. Often times the choice comes down to who has endorsed them. The California Republican Assembly is usually a reliable pro-life source of endorsements. The California Pro-life Council is another pro-life source for candidate information.
Who are those that represent me? For a complete list of those who represent a particular address, go to voteinfo.net. Scroll down to Elected Officials/District Lookup. Clicking there brings up a form that, with just a little information, allows a voter to see the entire list of the elected officials for their address.