Capitol Alert

AM Alert: If you don’t vote, you can’t complain

Adrian Espinoza, left, his father Pablo Espinoza, and his grandfather father Washington Espinoza who just became a United States citizen during a citizenship ceremony at Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento on Wednesday, July 27, 2016.
Adrian Espinoza, left, his father Pablo Espinoza, and his grandfather father Washington Espinoza who just became a United States citizen during a citizenship ceremony at Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. rbenton@sacbee.com

While you’re still feeling the ebullience or anger or dismay or whatever emotions last night’s presidential debate evoked, it seems like a good time to remind you to register to vote.

You probably know that Californians aren’t the best at voting. Record-low turnout for the 2014 election set off alarms and prompted concerted efforts to shake things up, including a bill on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk that could drastically change how some counties conduct elections. There have been some glimmers of progress: hundreds of thousands of voters signed up in the first half of 2016 and turnout for the June primary improved.

But with California’s October 24 registration deadline less than a month away, elections officials are still pressing. Today they’ll take part in a National Voter Registration Day effort to juice civic participation.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla will be seeking to boost youth turnout – just half of eligible 18-to-24-year-olds were registered in 2014, and a vanishingly small eight percent cast ballots – with a morning event at Francis Polytechnic High in Los Angeles’ Sun Valley community and an afternoon appearance at Cal State Fullerton alongside Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley. In between, Padilla will join Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan in launching a public information campaign that will enlist multiple media outlets and feature six different languages.

It’s not just a matter of choosing the next POTUS. As this year’s jumbo voter guide demonstrates, it’s also a big year for direct democracy. Californians will get a chance to enact major policy changes in areas that range from pot to prisons to porn. Learn more about the initiatives here, and make sure you’re eligible to have your say.

BY THE NUMBERS: Voter registration looms large in several competitive legislative races, with political parties, businesses, unions and others pouring money into shaping the electorate to their liking. From Jan. 1, 2015 through June 30, campaign committees reported more than $800,000 in direct payments for registration-related expenses and about $1.6 million in indirect payments, state filings show. The highest-spending registration efforts during that time were the Democrat-aligned California Vote Project 2016 and Californians for Voter Turnout, Education & Registration and the Republican-allied Golden State Voter Participation Project, which had received $754,000 from wealthy GOP activist Charles Munger, Jr. this cycle through June 30.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson reflects on taking a pie to the face.

GROUNDED: Water drawn from wells has become a politically charged topic in Sacramento and an existential issue in the Central Valley, where farmers and poor residents have struggled with scarcity and the impacts of a well-drilling boom. Today a group of scholars will cover the contentious topic of groundwater, including the status of the monumental regulations signed in 2014, during a talk at the Sutter Club. California Department of Water Resources director Mark Cowin will introduce a panel of Stanford experts, who will be speaking from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert. Jim Miller of the Bee Capitol Bureau contributed reporting.

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