WEST SACRAMENTO - Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day. And with the midterm election just weeks away, advocates are pushing for people to be ready.
In West Sacramento, Yolo County officials held a voter registration drive.
Tim Rogers almost did not register to vote.
"I thought people with felonies couldn't register," he said.
That is, until he saw Yolo County holding a voter registration drive in West Sacramento. He still felt hesitant despite county officials reassuring him he could register ahead of the upcoming midterm election.
I thought I was going to get a little bit in trouble if I do this, he said.
At 15, he entered incarceration.
He has never voted.
"So, it is important for people who've been part of this legal system to know that they have the ability to register and vote, said Maria Coronel, an outreach specialist for the assessor, clerk-recorder, and elections department.
Voting advocates also say Californians who are being supervised by probation or parole or serving a jail sentence are eligible to vote. An exception is for anyone currently incarcerated due to a felony.
The Center for Inclusive Democracy released a report highlighting the barriers formerly incarcerated people face in the state.
"They feel very intimidated by the system," said Mindy Romero, Director of the center at the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. "They feel like by asking questions – that they might even jeopardize their own freedom or own position within the system."
Turnout for midterm elections is historically lower than presidential elections, but political experts believe this year's turnout will be higher than usual.
The battle for control of congress, abortion, inflation, and the economy are just some of the hot-button issues for voters. At the voter registration drive, not everyone who signed up has been incarcerated.
"All of us – everyone's vote should matter," Robert Ceaser said.
He said he has not voted in a decade. But he will this November.
Tuesday also launched a two-week drive to get high school students as young as 16 years old to pre-register. Once they turn 18, their registration is fully activated – meaning that is when they will be able to vote. The goal is to make the electorate more diverse.
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