Photo credit: Community meeting hosted by EBASE by Brooke Anderson
Did you know there are 1,642,088 registered voters in Alameda and Contra Costa counties?
If you are a registered voter, be proud! By exercising your right to vote, you are honoring the fight of thousands of Black people and women who fought so that our right to vote was protected by law.
But this right, like many others, is not guaranteed. As the Supreme Court decisions continue to threaten our rights, it is more critical than ever for all eligible voters to vote in every election. Local elections and local ballot measures matter. Voting for elected officials, measures, and policies is one way we all can further our work to eliminate structural barriers, advance racial equity, and transform political, social, and economic outcomes for all who call the East Bay home.
Not registered to vote yet? Considering whether to vote in the upcoming election? Here are three motivations to participate in the November 2022 election.
#1. VOTING IS YOUR RIGHT
But depending on your race and gender, that was not always the case. It took one hundred years, two constitutional amendments and one major law to guarantee that all citizens have and could exercise their right to vote.
The right to vote was first protected in 1870 by the 15th Amendment, which prohibited states from denying a male citizen the right to vote based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” Did you notice the 15th Amendment only protected male citizens? Women did not have a right to vote until the 19th Amendment was adopted into the constitution on August 18, 1920.
Despite these amendments, discriminatory practices—like poll taxes and literacy tests—continued to prevent Black citizens from exercising their right to vote, especially in the South. It was not until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson that legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) citizens from voting were officially prohibited.
#2. VOTING AFFECTS YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE
The candidates and measures—especially local measures—determine how funds are used for parks and recreation, public health, education, childcare, libraries, street cleaning, and more. Voting ensures that your community gets appropriate funding to support the social services and infrastructure it needs the most.
Measures E & K, which Richmond voters passed in 2018, are examples of how voting can affect your everyday life. The Measures, known as the Richmond Kids First Initiative, established the Richmond Department of Children and Youth and required a portion of the City of Richmond’s general fund to be set aside to fund youth programs and services. By voting “yes” on Measures E & K, voters secured annual funding to support young people in Richmond with resources focused on mental health and wellness, education and employment, afterschool support, violence prevention, and access to basic needs.
Voting for candidates who support social services and infrastructure is just as important as voting for local measures because in many instances it is elected officials who decide where funding and resources are allocated.
#3. VOTING HOLDS ELECTED OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE
Elected officials at all levels of government are accountable to all their constituents and voting is one way that voters can ensure that elected officials make decisions in the best interests of the communities they represent. If elected officials are not making decisions that reflect the will of constituents, voters can select someone who will. This is what Alameda County voters did during the June 2022 primary when Yesenia Sanchez beat incumbent Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern.
Did you change your mind already? Fantastic. Click on the button below and register to vote via the California Secretary of State’s website today.
The application is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. If you have any questions, contact the Secretary of State’s Elections Division at (800) 345-VOTE (8683) or by email.
EBCF’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE NOVEMBER 2022 ELECTION
EBCF is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity and does not support candidates or political parties. EBCF is committed to using all the tools available to support community-led systems change efforts, including at the ballot box.
EBCF has provided our core grantee partners with funding to support their voter outreach and education efforts around the following measures.
In Oakland and Alameda County:
- Measure W which would provide each eligible resident with four $25 Democracy Dollars vouchers to donate to qualifying political candidates of their choice and increase transparency by requiring campaigns to list their top three contributors. Oakland Rising Action says vote “yes” on W.
- Measures V, Measure Q, and Measure U which would increase tenant protections, provide affordable rental housing, and raise resources to construct affordable housing and support critical city services. ACCE Action in Oakland says vote “yes” on V, Q, and U.
- Measure T which would adopt a progressive business tax structure in which small businesses would pay less while more profitable businesses would pay more. The new system would raise approximately $20 million in new revenue to support city services. Oakland Rising Action and ACCE Action Oakland say vote “yes” on T.
Here are some helpful resources to learn more about all the measures on the Alameda County ballot: League of Women Voters of Oakland “Pros & Cons” webpage, Alameda County Registrar of Voters webpage, and reporting from The Oaklandside.
In Richmond and Contra Costa County:
- Measure P which would protect tenants by limiting rent increases. ACCE Action Contra Costa says vote “yes” on P.
To learn more about Measure P read Richmond’s City Attorney Impartial Analysis, and to learn more about all of the Contra Costa County ballot measures and statewide propositions visit Voter’s Edge California.
Oakland Rising Action and ACCE Action are 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations. Donations to 501(c)(4) organizations are not tax-deductible. EBCF fund advisors cannot use their Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs) to support 501(c)(4) organizations. The organizations above have affiliated 501(c)(3) nonprofits that EBCF fund advisors can support through their DAFs, listed below.
SUPPORT OUR CORE GRANTEE PARTNERS PROMOTING AND PROTECTING THE RIGHT TO VOTE
Since Fall 2017, East Bay Community Foundation has distributed over $6.5 million in grants and contributions to support community-driven systems change. We strongly believe individuals and families who have first-hand experience with the root causes of injustice have the most valuable insights and are critical to developing best-fit solutions for their communities. For this reason, we fund organizations that work with individuals, families, and coalitions to develop, execute, and support community-led solutions. These are organizations that we fund through our Community Organizing, Power Building, and Movement Building program strategy.
Listed below are six of EBCF’s core grantee partners engaged in voter outreach and education. We invite you to visit their websites and learn more about their work.
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Contra Costa chapter works on tenant rights and housing advocacy through base-building and coalition-building in Contra Costa County cities and statewide.
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Oakland chapter engages in member-led campaigns focused on tenant rights and housing advocacy in Oakland and statewide.
Bay Rising is a growing alliance of community-led organizations across the Bay Area. They organize working-class people and people of color as voters year-round.
Oakland Rising educates and mobilizes voters in the flatlands to speak up for and take charge of the issues impacting their lives. Oakland Rising is highly engaged in coalitional efforts related to redistricting and anti-displacement work in East and West Oakland neighborhoods.
Power California leads voter and civic engagement with youth throughout the state, focusing on cities with large youth populations in Contra Costa County.
Safe Return Project is invested in building a powerful base of formerly incarcerated persons at the political, social, and economic levels across the state of California to address the root causes of poverty and the impacts of the criminal justice system on Black people and communities of color.
This blog post was created by and paid for by East Bay Community Foundation.