February 1, 2018

NIAC Begins Voter Education Campaign in Northern California Counties

The Iranian-American community is grossly underrepresented in politics. But we can easily change this by registering and turning out to vote in large numbers and making sure our community is as visible as possible during the upcoming election season. That is why I am excited to announce that NIAC will be supporting California’s Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) in Northern California as the first of several major efforts we will be undertaking in 2018 to ensure Iranian Americans have a major impact at the polls in the upcoming elections.

The idea behind VCA is to increase voter participation in California elections by increasing access to voting. NIAC will be running a voter education campaign in two counties with relatively large Iranian-American populations – San Mateo and Sacramento County – to ensure our communities there know about the new changes to their voting options.

The VCA expands voting options for Californians in certain counties. All registered voters in the participating counties will be mailed a vote-by-mail ballot, which they can either mail or drop at one of many drop-boxes across the county. Prefer to vote in person? No problem! There will also be vote centers opening across the county. Voters can choose to vote at whichever center is most convenient for them, rather than being assigned a specific polling location. Vote centers will be open 3 days before election day, with some opening 11-29 days before election day, depending on the county. So far, Sacramento, San Mateo, Napa, Nevada, and Madera county will be participating in the VCA during the 2018 election. If you’re interested in learning more about the VCA, check out https://voterschoice.org/.

NIAC’s work will involve translating materials to Persian, contacting voters, holding educational events, and participating in Voter’s Choice California coalition meetings and actions to collaborate with other organizations and make sure our community has adequate representation in outreach plans. We have even received grant funding from the Future of California Elections and the Hopewell Fund to make sure we have the resources to fund this program.

The counties are still in their initial planning stages of the VCA, developing their Election Administration Plans (EAPs). Recently, we submitted a public comment addressing both San Mateo and Sacramento’s EAPs with suggestions on how to conduct outreach to the Iranian-American community and participated in a public hearing to outline these recommendations. We plan on submitting a public comment once Sacramento County completes its updated EAP.

As we get closer to election day, we’re going to need a lot of help to make sure we reach out to as many Iranian-American voters as possible. So if you live near San Mateo or Sacramento County and wish to get involved, sign up to volunteer at https://www.niacouncil.org/volunteer-with-niac! Have questions? Email our Northern California Field Organizer, Dornaz Memarzia, at [email protected].

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