ORA Voter Education in the News

Published by Beth Gunston on

Excerpt from The Oaklandside, October 19, 2020. “These Oakland civic groups are finding new ways to mobilize voters during the pandemic”

Oakland Rising Action

Political Director of Oakland Rising/ Oakland Rising Action, Liz Suk. Suk has helped coordinate efforts to migrate Oakland Rising’s voter drives online as a result of the Pandemic. Credit: Pete Rosos

Another local voter education group, Oakland Rising Action, promotes civic engagement, particularly in the flatlands of West and East Oakland. The group used to host big events to educate and mobilize voters.

“It’d be difficult to mobilize 150 folks like we usually do,” said Liz Suk, the political director of Oakland Rising Action. “We shifted to doing solely phone banking and text banking and moving much of our political education to virtual spaces.”

Like Californians for Justice, Oakland Rising Action has seen that online voter engagement can actually reach many more people than in-person events. The group recently hosted a virtual “ballot party,” where they went over each of the ballot measures and viewers were encouraged to fill out their ballots at the same time. During the live broadcast earlier this month, about 45 people tuned in at any one time, Suk said. Around 500 people have viewed the archived video since then.

Instead of doing in-person voter registration work, Oakland Rising Action has been sharing information about how to register online. Suk said they focus on Oakland’s flatlands, where the most disenfranchised communities are.

“We have a lot more income disparity and unhoused folks,” she said. “Folks who are living in the flatlands are less likely to have services coming to their communities, and are the most impacted by gentrification.”

Oakland Rising Action also recruits volunteers from East and West Oakland to participate in voter outreach drives and to talk to their neighbors. Suk said she thinks the pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on civic engagement work for the group. Alameda County COVID rates are the most severe in Oakland, especially in East Oakland, which could drive up evictions in the months after the pandemic subsides and the eviction moratorium is lifted. Policies around rent, development and other housing issues are largely decided locally, Suk said, and it’s essential that the most vulnerable communities are knowledgeable about those decisions.

“The policies by which we are governed impact people’s lives directly. They’re not things just happening way off in the distance. They’re happening in our backyard,” she said. “We can really harness people’s ability to engage that system through their vote and civic participation.”


Excerpt from The Bold Italic, October 15, 2020. “Filling Out Your Ballot? Here Are the Best Bay Area Voter Guides to Help.”

illing out a California ballot is never an easy task, with its endless state, county, and city measures for you to weigh in on — all on top of choosing the candidate you want for various levels of office.

If you’re in the middle of filling out your ballot — or prepping to vote in person — endless voter guides are out there to help explain what ballot initiatives mean and who supports them as well as what certain candidates stand for.

But because there are so many guides, it’s hard to know which one to turn to. Instead of adding our own to the mix, we have rounded up the best voter guides already out there for Bay Area voters, including both those that are strictly nonpartisan and those that are partisan (and may align with your values).

First, the basics
  • This year, every registered voter in California was mailed a ballot. If you haven’t received yours and would like one, check that you are registered and have the right address listed. You can also check “Where’s My Ballot?” to track its status. If you are registered correctly but still haven’t received one, contact the California Secretary of State’s Elections Division.
  • If you are voting in person, make sure to find your polling place. In-person voting locations may be different than in years past to make it a safe experience during the pandemic, so check before you go.
  • The deadline to register online to vote in California is October 19. But if you miss that deadline, you can still register to vote at certain polling places.
Issue-based and partisan guides
  • Oakland Progressive Voter Guide
    This guide is created by Oakland Rising Action, a community-led political organization that engages in voter education and mobilization. The resource helps guide the progressive voter in Oakland ballot measures and elections.