California launches voting program to honor veterans

BY ALEXEI KOSEFF--SACRAMENTO BEE

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Just in time for Veterans Day, California is introducing a program that will allow voters to cast their ballots in recognition of acurrent or former member of the military.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced on Monday the “Honor Veterans. Vote.” campaign, encouraging Californians to pay tribute to veterans and active-duty service members “by participating in the democracy that they’re fighting to preserve.”

The initiative is based on similar arrangements in Louisiana, where Padilla heard about it on a trip to New Orleans earlier this year, and fifteen other states. Voters can submit dedications for family and friends at honorveterans.sos.ca.gov, then choose to receive a custom certificate or a lapel pin to display while voting.

Padilla, sporting one of the California-shaped pins, said he was dedicating his vote to David M. Gonzales, a soldier from his hometown of Pacoima who was killed in action during World War II and posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

After championing a law last year to automatically register Californians to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles, Padilla said he hoped “Honor Veterans. Vote.” would help boost turnout above the record lows the state saw in last year’s elections.

“There’s more than 2 million California who are veterans,” he said. “If just one more family member, one more friend, one more neighbor, one more coworker could realize that service and pay tribute to it by turning out to vote, we’ll certainly get more people casting ballots in future elections.”

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