Dr. Regina Patton Stell | Special to California Black Media

Dr. Regina Patton Stell

Our struggle for the right to vote in free and fair elections has been centuries in the making, one which I am proud to have joined.

This September, Black Californians have another chance to exercise that power, gained through centuries of activism, when we vote in the special election to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. Voting is underway, and voters across the state have already begun returning their mail-in ballots. We have only a matter of days until Sept. 14, election day, to ensure our voices are heard.

As Riverside NAACP president, I want to encourage all members of our community to get out and vote either by mail or in person at the polls. I’ve joined my NAACP colleagues across this great state in bringing this message to all Californians: no matter who you choose, no matter your affiliation or background, vote in this election for your future, for your community. If you are not registered, it’s not too late to register to vote in person. 

On the recall ballot, there are two questions. The first asks if you support recalling (i.e., firing) Gov. Newsom. If more than 50 percent of voters support the recall, the next governor will come from the ballot’s second question, which lists all the eligible recall candidates – totaling nearly 50 individuals. Whoever gets the most votes will hold the office through January 2023, the remainder of Newsom’s term.

We all hold the power in this recall. Like every election, the result is in our hands – and we all have an equal say in what the result will be. That’s why making your voice heard and your vote count is always important. If you don’t vote, you are letting others speak for you.

Your vote matters because the outcome of this election will decide who will be the executive in charge of the world’s fifth largest economy and responsible for public policy serving 40 Million Californians. 

The Riverside NAACP wants the community to understand that our vote is our voice and that it is critical that each of us plays an active part in making our democracy work.

Over the past 100 years, the NAACP has been part of a nationwide movement fighting for the right for Black Americans to vote. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us – activists like NAACP treasurer Wharlest Jackson, who was tragically assassinated on Feb. 27th, 1967, when a car bomb was activated in his car as he drove home. Because of this loss —along with the loss of other racial equity fighters — the right to vote as a US citizen should never be taken for granted.

Thankfully, our state makes voting so convenient that there is no excuse for anyone not to vote. In 2016, California lawmakers passed the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA). The VCA expanded early voting in Riverside County. Traditional polling places have been replaced with vote centers which serve as a one-stop shops for all your voting needs. 

At a vote center, you can vote in person, get help in multiple languages, cast your vote by using an accessible voting machine, and utilize same day registration. Voters can vote at any center in the county up to 10 days before election day. 

All registered Riverside County voters have been sent a ballot in the mail. Returned ballots have already been counted. The deadline for registering or re-registering for the recall election was Monday, August 30. If you missed the deadline, you can “conditionally” register and vote at any vote center after the voter registration deadline, up to and including Election Day. 

Eligible voters can register on the Secretary of State’s website. If you’re not sure, you can check your status there. The SOS also offers a tool to help you find early voting and ballot drop-off locations in your neighborhood. You can use the BallotTrax tool to confirm that your vote has been counted.

Be the promise of our parents’, grandparents’. eand great grandparents’ struggles. Get out and vote 

Dr. Regina Patton Stell is the President of the Riverside NAACP.