California Secretary of State Alex Padilla comes to Fort Irwin

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Photo by Casey Slusser, TASC

Election Day 2016 is seven months away, but campaigns are in full swing in state after state.

Fort Irwin voters are visiting the Installation Voting Assistance Office and Unit Voting Assistance Offices asking questions about voting, how to vote, if they should vote or if their vote really counts.

On March 17, the National Training Center and Fort Irwin was visited by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and he explained that voters need to get registered to vote, so their voice can be heard.

You may ask, why does the California secretary of state have a vested interest in Fort Irwin Soldiers voting? Well, it just so happens that one of the responsibilities of being secretary of state includes serving as the state’s chief elections officer. As explained on his webpage, the chief elections officer is required to test and approve all voting equipment for security, accuracy, reliability and accessibility in order to ensure every vote is counted as it was cast. The secretary also ensures: election laws and campaign disclosure requirements are enforced, maintains a statewide database of all registered voters, certifies the official lists of candidates for elections, tracks and certifies ballot initiatives, compiles election returns and certifies election results, educates California citizens about their voting rights, and promotes voter registration and participation. He does this by going to high schools, colleges and military installations encouraging citizens to register to vote.

Padilla’s visit here was nonpartisan with the focus being on voter registration. He spoke with Fort Irwin Unit Voting Assistance Officers and discussed different methods on how to reach voters and emphasized the low voter turnout during the 2014 midterm election. He encouraged UVAOs to find different ways to reach voters for the upcoming election.

Padilla then met with NTC and Fort Irwin Commander Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin for lunch. Martin gave Padilla and his staff a 30-minute brief on the life cycle of Fort Irwin.

The secretary’s final stop was at Freedom Fitness Center, where he talked to approximately 500 Soldiers, family members, and civilians on the importance of registering to vote. Again, he stressed the low voter turnout in the 2014 midterm and encouraged voters to get registered and get out there and vote.

Due to time restraints, he only had two-and-a-half hours to address voters, but I believe it was time well spent and it gave the Fort Irwin community an opportunity to meet with a state official and ask questions and hear his responses about voting.