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We are invisible voters

The County of Sacramento Voter Information Guide for the Nov. 6th General Election has probably arrived in your mailbox by now (reminder: PLEASE VOTE). As with the recent Primary election, the County is an early adapter for the state’s new “Vote Center” system. Voters can mail their ballots, drop them off at vote centers or vote in person at vote centers on election day (or several days prior, depending on the vote center). The Voters Guide has a detailed list of vote centers. There are seventy-eight vote centers scattered around the County, including in four Arden Arcade:

  • Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer at 4641 Marconi
  • Conzelmann Community Center in Howe Park at 2201 Cottage
  • Town & Country Lutheran Church at 4049 Marconi
  • Rio Americano HS at 4540 American River Drive

But you would not necessarily know those Arden Arcade vote centers were in Arden Arcade — they are all listed as being in Sacramento. To the casual citizen, that sure sounds like the City of Sacramento. Sometimes people here don’t know they do not live in the City of Sacramento, and it doesn’t help when the media and official publications like the County Voter Information Guide add to the confusion. Consider: the largest governmental sub-unit in Sacramento County is the vast UnCity of twenty-eight Census Designated Places (CDPs). Those are the statistical units used by the US Census that are counterparts of incorporated places such as cities. CDPs like Arden Arcade are populated areas that resemble incorporated places but, lacking a municipal government of their own, get their municipal services from the Board of Supervisors. Within the UnCity, six CDPs are in Susan Peters’ Supervisorial District. But only three — Carmichael, Fair Oaks and North Highlands — are shown in the Voter Guide as having vote centers in their actual communities. The three other CDPs in Susan Peters’ District that are not listed — Foothill Farms, Arden Arcade and the western half of La Rivera — have about of 131,000 people, all of whom are identified in the Voter Guide as living in Sacramento. And that can create confusion for voters. This is the second election in a row that the County has hidden unincorporated places like ours within “Sacramento”.

In the end, this is a continuation of the invisibility that inflicts Arden Arcade. It’s like the freeway exit ramp signs that point to Carmichael but do not tell you that you have to drive through Arden Arcade to get there. We don’t exist. We don’t matter.

Census Designated Places in Sacramento County. Arden Arcade, #8 above, is by far the most populated, having over 92,000 residents (2010 Census). Source: https://www.saccounty.net/Documents/sac_003580.pdf