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Although Election Day is still two weeks away as we write this, the reality is that voting has already begun. We want to encourage everyone in Long Beach to vote and vote early.

By now, all registered California voters should have received a mail-in ballot. If you haven’t gotten yours, please visit our City Clerk’s website at longbeach.gov/cityclerk/elections/current-election/ to check its status. You can also track your ballot there after you’ve mailed it in.

With so many options for casting your vote, we are hoping to see the highest turnout in our city’s history this election cycle.

You can mail your vote-by-mail ballot by way of the U.S. Postal Service. You can drop it off at any one of 18 official ballot boxes in Long Beach. You can vote early at one of 34 locations in our city. And of course, you can vote at your Vote Center or at any Vote Center in Los Angeles County on election day.

For a list of all the ballot drop-off locations, and a picture of the official LA County ballot drop-off boxes, please visit lavote.net. You can also find early voting centers and all the county’s Election Day Vote Centers there.

We want to make it very clear that all of these methods are very safe, both in terms of your ballot’s security, and in regard to the public health. Our ballot drop-off boxes are incredibly secure — just make sure you use an official LA County location. Our Vote Centers will be taking extra precautions to enable social distancing and sanitary spaces. We are doing everything possible to keep voters safe and encourage full participation in this election.

Obviously, the presidential election is on the ballot this cycle and that’s been the main focus of much of the daily news. But there are many other elections on the ballot that are also important.

Here in Long Beach there are three city council seats, one Board of Education seat, and a Long Beach City College Board of Trustee seat at stake. We also have Measure US, a tax on oil that will go into the city’s General Fund.

These elections will help determine the course of our city over the coming years and we want everyone’s voice to be heard.

There are also 12 statewide ballot propositions for voters to decide on, covering everything from commercial property taxes and independent contractors, to affirmative action and voting rights for young people. We need your help in making sure Long Beach is represented in these decisions — and you can do that by voting.

And, in addition to the presidential, state and local elections, you’ll also be voting for your United States Congressional representative, several judges, and other offices. Information about everything and everyone on your ballot is included in your sample ballot, which was sent to you earlier this month, but if you need to find it again, the booklet is also online at lavote.net. Impartial analysis of the ballot measures, along with arguments for and against, is included there.

This is an incredibly important election and we encourage you to vote early — today if you can! Regardless of your political views, we can all agree that’s a good thing.

It’s clear that our country is politically divided right now. We know that all Americans want to see our representative democracy thrive. No single action is more essential to a functional people’s government than voting. Elections allow us to peacefully express our opinions, hold our representatives accountable, and join together with our fellow Americans to take care of our country. Without widespread participation in elections, democracy cannot succeed.

Please get out and vote like the country depends on it. Because it does.

Monique De La Garza, CMC, is the Long Beach City Clerk.

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