FRESNO, CA (KMJ) – California Secretary of State Alex Padilla visited Fresno as a guest of the Maddy Institute’s Associates Luncheon.
As the guest speaker at the event held Tuesday afternoon at Vino Grille & Spirits in Northeast Fresno, Secretary Padilla was speaking about two main topics; California Elections and Census Participation.
Padilla calls it great news that in 2020 there will be more options as to when, where, and how people will cast their vote as Fresno is one of the five counties participating in the Voter’s Choice Act.
Under the Act, Padilla said by mail or by person, California voters can cast their ballot.
Voters will receive a mail-in ballot, with drop boxes for them to be deposited in placed throughout the County.
Padilla said people don’t need to worry about postage — just send in the ballot “no stamp needed.”
The County’s 268 voting precincts will go away, instead voters will go to one of 50 voting centers – 10 centers will be open 10 days before the election, while 40 will be open three days before the election.
Padilla commented about the state’s new-found influence in the 2020 Presidential Race.
“I think the shift to a March Primary in next year’s presidential will benefit the voters of California the most. California is no stranger to presidential candidates coming to raise money here but now they will have to earn California votes by addressing California issues,” said Secretary of State Padilla.
On Monday, the California Secretary of State’s office released figures showing more than 79 percent of California’s eligible voters or over 20 million people are registered to vote.
It’s been the highest percentage since 1996.
Asked about the push by some to drop the voting age to 17, Padilla said at least several states have it, and it “makes sense” in California.
Padilla addressed cyber hacking, saying that there was no evidence of it in California, but “we know looking at 2020 those who seek to undermine our democracy will increase both in and frequency and sophistication, so our work continues.”
Padilla said ballot machines can’t be connected to the internet, and they must conduct post election audits, with a manual tally of votes to ensure accuracy of the results.
Another threat to elections, according to the Secretary of State is “bad information, misinformation, and disinformation on social media platforms.”
Moving to the topic of the 2020 Census, a mandated national population count every ten years, Padilla said the coming census will be the first digital census.
A letter will arrive and instruct people how to go online and register their information, however, Padilla aired his concerns about the “digital divide” as not everyone has access to the internet.
Another concern he says is the current administration’s question about citizenship, and how its discouraging people wanting to taking part in the count.
“So it is really breaking with bi-partisan precedent, this effort to reinsert the question about citizenship in 2020,” said Padilla.
The Secretary of State said the question over citizenship has been challenged with multiple lawsuits, and two federal judges have ruled the question should not be on the ballot.
A judge in California — finding last week that the addition of the citizenship question was unconstitutional.
Padilla said ultimately, the Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether or not the Trump Administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
A hearing is expected to be held in April.
Click to listen to the report by KMJ’s Liz Kern: