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Vote April 8: No heavy lifting required!

LIVE! from City Hall

Posted: March 23, 2008 1:58 a.m.
Updated: May 24, 2008 5:02 a.m.
It's a right, it's a hard-won privilege, and yet it's often taken for granted. Did you know that the government that actually impacts your life on a day-to-day basis more than any other is your local government? It's true!

Think about the streets and sidewalks you use every day near your home and your children's schools, your local parks and trails, even the stop sign at the corner and the traffic lights around town.

These and many other aspects of infrastructure like them are the responsibility of local government, and if you live in the city of Santa Clarita, it's probably something the city has a hand in.

Typically, local election turnout in our community is low and is usually less than 20 percent of registered voters. Different countries have very different average voter turnouts. For example, in the United States, scarcely half the eligible population votes, while in Australia, which has compulsory voting, and in Malta, participation reaches 95 percent.

In the 2004 city of Santa Clarita Municipal Election, only 14 percent of registered voters actually turned in a ballot. An astonishing 74,723 of the residents in the city were registered voters, yet fewer than 11,000 voters actually exercised their right to vote. That's fewer than one-quarter of eligible voters making the decisions for a city of more than 170,000 people!

The 2008 city of Santa Clarita's Municipal Election will be held on Tuesday, April 8. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This year, two seats on the five-member Santa Clarita City Council are up for election. To encourage potential voters to exercise their right to vote, the city of Santa Clarita has set up an easy-to-understand Web site, The Web site features information about how to register to vote, polling locations, precinct maps, candidate statements, and a sample ballot.

Best of all, you can log onto this Web site April 8 after the polls close at 8 p.m. and watch live election results streaming over the Web!

Over the last few years, the biggest increase the city has seen in voter turnout has come from the "absentee ballot," or mail-in ballot.

This is something the city has encouraged because of its popularity, ease of use, savings on time and gas to drive to a polling place.

Much of the city's voter information Web site is also accessible in Spanish as a result of the city's effort to comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act.

Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act obligates Los Angeles County to provide assistance, materials, and information relating to the electoral process in Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino
(Tagalog) and Vietnamese, as well as in English. This obligation extends to all elections conducted by governmental entities within Los Angeles County, including our city's Municipal Election.

Voter assistance will be available at all polling locations. This year, there are 30 voting precincts for the Municipal Election. Voters can check their sample ballots or the voting Web site to find information on handicapped accessibility and language assistance. If you are unable to make it to your regular voting precinct on Election Day, you can go to any polling location and cast a provisional ballot.

Absentee ballots can also be mailed in, and must be received by the close of polls on April 8 to be counted.

Many residents have an opinion as to what is going on in the city and often offer comments about traffic, growth, open space, the economy, and much more. Voting in the Municipal Election is the only way to ensure that your opinions are being represented by your locally-elected government. We encourage you to take the time to read your sample ballot and vote for the candidates whom you think will best represent your ideals.

You have the opportunity to cast a vote and exercise a privilege that thousands have fought and died for. Don't let this opportunity go to waste by allowing someone else make the decisions for you! Being active in your community will only take a few minutes of your time, and you won't even have to break a sweat!
So take a moment on April 8, 2008, to exercise your right to vote. On election night, the city will broadcast live election results as ballots are counted. Tune in to Public Access Channel 20 or log onto to watch as the results are tabulated.

For more information regarding the upcoming city of Santa Clarita Municipal Election, visit or call the City Clerk's Office at (661) 255-4391.

Ken Striplin is assistant city manager for Santa Clarita. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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