Access Humboldt Announces Voter Education Effort; Elections Office Reminds Folks to Register


Local election season is officially ramping up. - FILE
  • File
  • Local election season is officially ramping up.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for months, you’re probably aware that Election Day is less than two weeks away. And if you’re freaking out because you’ve been entirely consumed by watching national pundits froth at the mouth over faraway congressional races and don’t know where you stand on local candidates and measures, take heart: The good folks at Access Humboldt have you covered.

They have taken the time and effort to compile all the videos they could track down of local candidate forums, election coverage done by KEET PBS North Coast and packaged it with Access Humboldt’s own election offerings on a single web page, giving you a kind of one-stop shop for local election video content.

Now a couple of disclaimers to keep in mind while taking all this in. First and foremost, Access Humboldt has offered to make its community channels available to political candidates, campaigns and advocates for ballot measures, but not all opted to take part, so their offerings are not necessarily comprehensive. For example, the Scott Malcolm’s Straight Talk in Humboldt series has interviewed some Eureka candidates but not all. Second, because Access Humboldt has made its services available to advocates, some of the linked programming is decidedly created through that lens. For example, the Accountability TV piece on Measure K — the sanctuary county ordinance — is created by the North Coast People’s Alliance, which has publicly endorsed the measure. (The entire Accountability TV series is designed to showcase candidates and measures endorsed by the North Coast People’s Alliance.)

So voters should make sure to pay attention to who’s producing the content and who’s asking the questions so they can judge what they’re seeing in its full context. (The Journal will insert a plug here urging more local organizations to get involved with creating Access Humboldt election content, as voters would benefit from seeing elections issues explored through a wide variety of lenses.) Check out Access Humboldt's election page here.

Finally, if you’re reading this and your heart is sinking because you are realizing that California’s voter registration deadline came and went Monday and you’re still unregistered or registered at an old address, don’t panic! You have recourse.

The Humboldt County Elections Office sent out a press release yesterday reminding that California now offers conditional voter registration and provision voting for those who didn’t get registered before the deadline. Beginning yesterday and continuing through Election Day, voters can venture on over to the Humboldt County Elections office (2426 Sixth St., Eureka, open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m.) to complete a voter registration form and receive a provisional ballot. Once your registration is processed and you’re deemed eligible, your provisional ballot will be counted. (Folks can also fill out a registration form online here and then swing by to fill out the provisional ballot.)

So there you have it. There’s really no excuse.

Countywide, about 71 percent of those eligible to vote are registered, according to the California Secretary of State’s Office. Statewide, the rate is almost 76 percent, so we’ve clearly got some work to do. (We’ll take this opportunity to offer a begrudging hat tip to Lassen County, which, at 86.36 percent, boasts the highest registration rate in the state and a finger wag at Merced County, which, with just 59 percent of those eligible registered, takes the distinction as California’s most apathetic county.)

And we’ll wrap up by reminding folks that registering is at best only half the equation. In the June primary election — you know, the one that feels like was three years ago — just 42 percent of those registered in Humboldt County actually cast a ballot. That means just 30 percent — fewer than one in three — of those eligible cast ballots. (In the 2016 Presidential election, just 58 percent of eligible voters cast ballots and four years ago, in November of 2014, just 36 percent of eligible voters cast votes.)

This is all to say, let’s get out there and vote on or before Nov. 6, Humboldt. There are no good excuses for not doing it. After all, we don’t want those smug Lassen County voters making decisions for us, do we?

Check out the full Access Humboldt press release copied below and the one from the elections office copied below that.

Eureka, CA - Access Humboldt’s community media channels provide a free platform for political speech in the community.

While the broadcast TV rules for “equal time” and the “Fairness Doctrine” do not apply to community access channels, there is a clear standard: “Equal opportunity” is afforded for all views to be expressed. On the community channels of Access Humboldt, you will see programs presented by local residents, including programs that promote a candidate or a particular cause.

Political speech regarding candidates for public office and ballot measures are among the most protected forms of speech under US law. The rules of engagement for Access Humboldt are posted online at Local policies about Political Programming include:

“… Candidates for local office may produce programs or appear on other programs, in the same manner as any other member of the community. No paid advertising will be accepted on behalf of any candidate for public office or political parties, including promoting and or opposing ballot issues by supporting groups or lobbying organizations.

Political candidates and advocates for ballot issues are welcome to utilize the services on the same terms as other access users. AH maintains the right to limit the length and frequency of political programming in the same manner that it imposes these limits on other programs…”

Commercial speech, including solicitation of funds for non-profit purposes, is regulated and generally prohibited. So, a message calling for a vote is fully protected, while selling products or making a plea for contributions is not.
Under the heading “Producers’ and Presenters’ Rights” is an important statement:

”Producers and presenters are not obligated to show or sponsor shows representing any viewpoint other than their own. Community residents with different and opposing viewpoints are encouraged to use the public access channel to express their own ideas.”

HUMBOLDT COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Today is the first day of Conditional Voter Registration and Provisional Voting, and the Humboldt County Office of Elections will be offering this service to eligible voters who missed the 15 day registration deadline or for those who haven’t had an opportunity to update their address information for the upcoming election. Beginning today, October 23rd and continuing through Election Day, November 6th, individuals have the opportunity to come to the Humboldt County Elections Office, complete a voter registration form, and receive a provisional ballot. Under this law, once the county elections official processes the voter registration form, determines the individual’s eligibility to register, and validates the individual’s information, the registration becomes permanent and the provisional ballot is counted.

Individuals can register to vote online at prior to coming to the Humboldt County Office of Elections to vote a provisional ballot.

The Humboldt County Office of Elections is located at 2426 6th Street, Eureka, and is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to Noon, and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. On Election Day, November 6th, the Office of Elections is open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. For questions or additional information, call (707) 445-7481.

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