California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (left), Fullerton College President Greg Schulz (middle) who moderated the town hall, and U.S. Rep. Gil Cisneros (right) engage in the census and voting town hall earlier this month.
NICOLAS HERNANDEZ | THE POLY POST
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With a new decade comes a new constitutionally mandated census. In preparation, U.S. Representative Gil Cisneros, D-39th district, and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla spoke this month at a town hall meeting at Fullerton College to answer questions about the 2020 Census and new California voting procedures.
The town hall, held Jan. 17, was a means for Cisneros and Padilla to answer a series of previously submitted questions and inform the attendees about the importance of completing this decade’s census and upcoming changes to voting in the state.
Cisneros began the discussion on the upcoming census by encouraging everyone to complete it online, emphasizing the availability of multiple languages in the process. This is the first time the country has been given the option to complete the census online or by phone, as well as through the traditional paper packet.
Census results dictate the amount of federal funding a state receives and the number of congressional seats apportioned to each state. With the number of seats in the House of Representatives capped at 435, there is a chance that California will lose one or more seats in Congress if the census results indicate a stalled or decreased state population.
“I am kind of worried,” Cisneros said. “The thing is we may lose one (seat in Congress). By all projections we’re probably going to lose one, and if we don’t participate in the census we could possibly lose two.”
Cisneros also assured the audience that the census will not include the question of whether a respondent is a citizen, and that those who work for the U.S. Census Bureau take an oath to not share any private information with other U.S. government agencies.
In answering the first question about changes coming to voting in California, Padilla stated, “A democracy works best when as many eligible people participate, but if you have a form of government where only 1% of people are determining who the representatives are, is that really a democracy?”
Padilla then went on to describe new voting mechanisms in the state, prefacing by saying that past procedures were not “very user-friendly.” He discussed the limitations of in-person voting, where one had only a single day to vote. Now, voters have 11 days up to and including Election Day to cast their votes.
As part of the new voting process, voters can receive a ballot in the mail which they can submit to certain drop-off locations within their county. Cisneros and Padilla also introduced the implementation of vote centers which allow Californians to cast their ballots from multiple areas within their county.
According to the California Secretary of State website, Orange and Los Angeles counties will be equipped with these new voting mechanisms, but San Bernardino County will not be using them for the upcoming election.
Cal Poly Pomona is listed as a potential vote center location, according to L.A. County’s Voting Solutions for All People website, with the other nearest ballot drop-off being at the Pomona Public Library.
Padilla also discussed election security, emphasizing the state’s use of paper ballots and secure voting machines, disconnected from the internet. When asked about voter fraud, he described it as being “nearly non-existent,” while still outlining how it is prevented and investigated.
Vote centers will open Feb. 22 and will remain in operation up until the March 3 elections. Invitations to complete the 2020 Census will be sent out by mail beginning March 12.