The first Tuesday in November should be a day marked on every calendar. Voting is an important part of civic engagement, and it is integral to achieving sustained community health improvements.
Election day in California presents an opportunity for Latinos in California to make a direct impact on the state. Elected officials in the State Capitol and Washington D.C. impact important issues that directly impact Californians – like health and the economy. Each Election Day is a chance to influence the quality of life for all.
Last year, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen designated Covered California as a voter registration agency, creating an opportunity for the millions Californians eligible to apply or renew their health coverage to also register to vote. California will just be one of five states to declare their health benefit exchange as a voter registration agency under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
Allowing Californians to register to vote and get their coverage in the same place emphasizes how important it is to participate. Policy makers are listening to your voice and each time you go to the ballot box, they must pay attention. You can protect your health and make sure your voice is heard in the same place.
The crossover between unregistered voters and the uninsured is striking – last year 64 percent of the seven million uninsured Californians were Latinos. Let’s learn from our successes with health care enrollment and engage those same audiences to register to vote.
This week, Voto Latino – an organization that empowers Latino millennials to take action and create positive change in their community – is hosting a power summit in San Jose. In California, there are 5.9 million Latinos that are eligible to vote and one-third of those eligible are 18-25 – a key block to get involve early civic participation.
November 4 – Election day – is just around the corner. But the key to participating is getting registered before October 20. Latinos can register to vote through organizations around the state like Voto Latino, public libraries, county election offices as well as the Department of Motor Vehicles. But Californians can now also save time and get registered to vote when you enroll or renew your health coverage.
Applicants can register to vote through Covered California’s website, when they call 1-800-300-1506 to enroll in health coverage, or through a certified enrollment counselors:
- Register to vote under Covered California’s ‘Resources’ tab.
- Fill out a Covered California health care application, where there are links provided under ‘external services’ and ‘Contact Us’ on the home page once you log in or at the end of the application.
For more information on how to register to vote, visit Covered California’s Voter Registration FAQ here.
And while Californians are registering to vote, they can prepare for another important date – open enrollment (November 15 – February 15) on the same site; they can also shop for health plans that best fit them and their family needs and practice their right to access quality, affordable health coverage. Let’s continue the success from last year – California cut the uninsured rate in half, insuring over 3.4 million residents.
A recent California Voter Foundation (CVF) Survey identified that one in three people do not know where to find voter registration forms. By making the exchange a one-stop shop for health coverage and voter registration, California is opening a new avenue for people to participate in the state’s civil discourse.
When residents more fully participate in civic engagement processes in their communities, and take action on the issues that affect their lives, they are better able to boost their own health and the health of their communities.