Getting out the vote in the Central Coast

Knowing the high stakes in this election, CAUSE led a massive effort in 2016 to mobilize Latino, young and working-class voters throughout the Central Coast region.

We were the local anchor in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties of the Million Voters Project, which this year was the largest grassroots voter mobilization effort in the entire state of California.  The Million Voters Project worked to pass Props 55, 56 and 57, which will invest billions more in education and healthcare instead of prisons in California.  CAUSE made more voter contacts and secured more supporters than any other local group in our coalition.  In the months leading up to the election, we had conversations at the door or on the phone with over 30,000 voters and gained the support of over 20,000 for these propositions. 

CAUSE also collected nearly 8,000 signatures in the spring to help the propositions qualify for the ballot.

Thanks to this massive grassroots campaign statewide, all three passed, with Prop 55 continuing California’s tax on the wealthiest 2% to fund education, Prop 56 taxing tobacco to fund MediCal for low-income families, and Prop 57 allowing people in prison to earn time off their sentences by participating in education, job training and rehabilitation programs.

CAUSE is working to change the landscape of the Central Coast long-term by raising the voter participation rates of our communities.  This year we registered over 1,000 voters, our largest voter registration drive in our history.  Over 800 of those voters were in Santa Maria, where we concentrated our efforts.  Santa Maria has the lowest voter registration rate of any community CAUSE organizes in, with only 3 in 5 eligible voters actually signed up to vote. 

Our youth committees also passed an innovative voter registration policy in both the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District and the Oxnard Union High School District.  The policy requires all high schools in the districts to give students two opportunities to register to vote in class before they graduate.  In the first reported results from Oxnard Union High School District, over 1,000 students registered to vote in the September voter registration drive, when only a small fraction of students are old enough to register.  We expect even greater numbers in the April voter registration drive!

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