Coordination with California Department of Veterans Affairs
In May 2008, Secretary of State Debra Bowen met with the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CDVA) to improve voter registration opportunities for veterans and their families. Millions of veterans and their families receive benefits and services from the CDVA, which provides the agency and the Secretary of State with an opportunity to reach out and offer voter registration services.
Some of CDVA's services include:
- A place to live and receive medical services through the Veterans Home of California, which has campuses in Yountville (Napa County), Barstow (San Bernardino County), and Chula Vista (San Diego County);
- Home loans for veterans and their families through the CalVet Home Loan Program;
- Legal advice and representation for veterans having trouble getting access to veteran benefits and services from the federal government; and
- Education and career assistance by way of fee reductions and waivers at state colleges and universities, job training and placement programs, and hiring preferences in civil service jobs.
Secretary Bowen and CDVA Secretary Thomas Johnson immediately implemented the following programs to encourage voter registration and improve outreach to veterans and their families:
- Including the Secretary of State's voter registration brochure, called "My Voice. My Choice. My Vote." in the welcome package CDVA mails to veterans who are returning from a tour of duty. The CDVA sends out about 22,000 welcome packages every year;
- Printing a voter registration notice on the back of all CalVet Loan bills three times a year. The notice will include a link to the Secretary of State's website (www.sos.ca.gov) and voter hotline number (800) 345-VOTE (8683.) (According to the CDVA, there are about 14,000 active CalVet loan holders);
- Providing a voter registration form to all residents at the three state Veterans Homes in Yountville, Barstow, and Chula Vista;
- Placing voter registration cards at all CDVA public counters, including CDVA regional administrative offices, CalVet service offices, and CalVet home loan offices; and
- Adding a "Register to Vote" button to the CDVA website, which links to the Secretary of State voter registration webpage.