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Santa Barbara organizations host event, push for voter registration as election approaches

On National Voter Registration Day, the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara and the League of Women Voters partnered to host a voter registration event on Laguna Street in Santa Barbara Tuesday evening.

Their goal is to register as many people to vote as possible and encourage participation in the election process. Event organizers say they want to specifically help underserved or lower income members of the community get involved.

“I think it’s important for them to use their voice and know that they have a voice,” Celia Wright of the Housing Authority said. “The less income you have, the less likely you are to vote. I found that you are actually 30 percent less likely to vote, the less income you have.”

Ismael Paredes-Ulloa, a board member for the Santa Barbara Unified School District, says his focus is on encouraging younger people to vote. Those at least 16 years old can now pre-register to vote, so they can be ready to mark their ballot once they turn 18.

“I think it’s important, especially for our youth, to get more involved,” Paredes-Ulloa said. “To be able to feel their voice, to feel their strength and be able to let it be known. I think voting is probably one of the easiest ways to make changes on a local, all the way up to national level. And i wanna make sure our students are exerting that power as much as possible.”

Event organizers know, however, that registering people to vote is only half the battle.

“What’s most shocking is that half of the people that registered, don’t vote,” says Susan Horne of the League of Women Voters. “For example, in the primary that was in June, a little less than 50 percent of people [registered to vote] in Santa Barbara County voted. So we have all these people registered and only half of them vote.

The deadline to register to vote online or by mail in California is Monday, October 22. People can also register to vote in person at many post offices, public libraries, government offices and the DMV.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6.

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