With a little over six weeks to go before Election Day, it is of the utmost importance to be ready, given what’s at stake, even if one is just to focus on local issues. While there are many who are certainly ready for the long-awaited relief that is due after years of presidential campaigning, all of that anguish will not be in vain — voters will finally have their say when they turn in their ballots. But for those who are elgible to vote, now is the time to be prepared to ensure that your vote counts. That means registering; and if you are concerned that you can’t make it to the ballot booth, be sure to sign up to vote by mail. Unfortunately, eligible voter turnout during presidential election years has hovered between 48 percent and 64 percent for over a century and between 33 percent and 49 percent during gubernatorial years. Given the seemingly constant battle over voting rights, it appears that too many voters today — and over the last century — just don’t understand the importance of casting their ballots.

It has been said ad nauseum that “my vote doesn’t matter.” But there are countless people who fought for such rights who would disagree. Up until 1920, women didn’t have the right to vote. And while the 15th Amendment of 1870 granted blacks the right to vote, discriminatory practices were so prevalent that President Lyndon B. Johnson had to enact another piece of legislation, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to ensure that such practices would be banned and to ensure Black voters their right to vote. But the battle still goes on, with the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 siding with states, in particular Southern states that were the main culprits that led to the Voting Rights Act, in striking down a requirement that they must get federal approval before enacting new laws that make it harder to vote, such as requiring IDs. And so, certain legislators, even if allegedly well-intentioned, get to haphazardly create hurdles that otherwise eligible voters might not be able to cross — and too many still don’t vote when it’s so easy to do.

In Ventura County, however, we are encouraged by ongoing efforts to register young voters, as at Oxnard Union High School, where school officials are currently aiming to do just that. Other institutions and social activist organizations have also been actively campaigning for years to help young people register. Further, this is a particularly unique time in Ventura as it’s the first time the election cycle for City Council that will coincide with a presidential election year.  Given Ventura City Council voter turnout has remained in the mid-20 percent for the last several years, this election cycle could produce an increased voter turnout, which might make things interesting.

As the local election season begins to heat up, there are candidate forums happening throughout the next month. Your local city clerk should be able to assist in finding them or visit our website, www.vcreporter.com, for a comprehensive list at the end of this editorial. Even if you can’t make it to a forum, we, as well as other media outlets, will be in full swing with reporting and endorsements in our Oct 13 issue. Take the time not only to vote but to be informed.


CITY COUNCIL AND MAYORAL CANDIDATE FORUMS

Moorpark

Thursday Sept. 22, 2016, 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Moorpark High Street Arts Center, 45 E. High St. Moorpark, CA 93021
Sponsored by Moorpark Chamber of Commerce, 529-0322
Featuring the Moorpark candidates for Mayor, City Council and School Board positions

Oxnard

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Casa Lopez, 325 South A Street
Focus on downtown issues

Both scheduled forums at the Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m. (800 Hobson Way, Oxnard, CA 93030)

Thursday, Oct. 13: City Council
Monday, Oct. 17:
Mayoral (candidates for City Clerk and City Treasurer will have a brief opportunity to introduce themselves and make their case at the end of the debate)

Thousand Oaks

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Thousand Oaks City Council Chambers (Scherr Forum Theatre)
2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
Hosted by the League of Women Voters of Ventura County

Wednesday, October 5, 7:00- 8:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. will be Senate District 27 forum)
Lundring Events Center, California Lutheran University
60 W. Olsen Rd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

Ventura

Thursday, Sept. 29, 7:45 pm
Sponsored by: League of Women Voters
Cabrillo Middle School 1426 East Santa Clara St.
Ventura – 93001
Carol Lindberg 642-1682

Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016
Sponsored by: Westside Community Council and
Bell Arts Factory
6:30 pm
Bell Arts Factory
432 N Ventura Ave.
Ventura – 93001
Moderator – Suz Montgomery
Lori Steinhauer
512-6193

Tuesday, Oct. 11
Sponsored by: Ventura Social Services Task Force
7:00 p.m.
Ventura Church of Christ
5401 N Bryn Mawr Street
Ventura – 93003
Dave Schulze
642-2343

Wednesday, Oct. 19
Sponsored by: Ventura Manufactured Home Owners
Residential Council
2:00 pm
Buena Ventura Mobile Home Park
11405 Darling Road
Club House
Ventura – 93004
Jill Martinez
982-0013

*This may not be the full list but it comprises readily available information.