SANTA BARBARA, Calif.— Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day.

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics promoted civic engagement through an initiative called Vot-ER.

“It is a way of trying to encourage people to register to vote, or if they’re already registered to check their status, make sure that they haven’t fallen off the rolls for some reason, helping people to reregister if they’ve moved or change their name,” said Claire Van Blaricum from the League of Women Voters.

“I saw that I was up for a vote in Los Angeles County. And then it just occurred to me that since I’ve been living here for a couple of years, I should probably transfer over to Santa Barbara County to vote,” said Gabriel Estrada, a prospective medical student who works at Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics.

Dr. Anu Sharma spearheaded this initiative locally last year and says she is excited to continue to empower her patients.

“We take care of some some vulnerable populations. And if you ask them, many will say, ‘No one asked me to register to vote, or my vote doesn’t matter,” said Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics Pediatrician Dr. Anu Sharma.

Dr. Sharma says there is a close link between voting and patient health.

“ Every single policy affects our health, whether it’s about child care, or construction going through your community for ten years, or the water we drink— any kind of policy— it really does affect our health,” said Dr. Sharma.

This is the first year Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics has partnered with the League of Women Voters.

“People that come to a neighborhood clinic may not necessarily have a driver’s license. So they may not have been automatically registered through the Motor Voter Act. We just want to find people who want to vote, who need to express themselves, but may not really have the opportunity yet to register,” said Van Blaricum.

The philosophy here is that every vote counts.

“In 2019, one of the Santa Barbara City Council District elections was decided by eight votes. So certainly every vote does count. If nobody votes, there’s no decision made,” said Van Blaricum.

Registration took place at all of the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics and the Bridge Clinic Tuesday.

Registering to vote was as easy as scanning a QR code.


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