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Guest Post: A Toolkit to Make Sure Every Vote Counts

BY Doug Chapin
Doug Chapin
Doug Chapin directs the Future of California Elections project. Chapin has been
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| Oct 14, 2014 1

By Doug Chapin – Director, Future of California Elections

Editor’s Note: The Future of California Elections (FOCE) is a coalition of election administrators, civil rights groups and election reform advocates, working to examine and address the unique challenges facing the state of California’s election system.

With Election Day less than a month away, new research shows that many California voters are at risk of having their vote-by-mail ballots go uncounted for due to one of three common errors – returning them too late, returning them without signing the envelope, or using a signature that can’t be matched against existing records.

Today, members of the Future of California Elections (FOCE) host a luncheon panel in Sacramento to launch an effort to help policymakers, staff and the statewide election community educate voters on how to prevent those errors from happening.

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Improving Prospects for Immigrants

BY Amy Dominguez-Arms
Amy Dominguez-Arms
As Director of the California Democracy program, Amy leads strategies aimed at i
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| Apr 23, 2014

Among the current efforts to improve prospects for the nation’s immigrants, I’m struck by the number of unusual alliances forming across sectors. Toward the common goals of expanding opportunities for immigrant families and strengthening our communities, we're seeing business people working closely with nonprofits, conservative faith leaders coordinating with student groups, labor groups connecting with law enforcement.

A terrific example of such a partnership may be found in the National Immigration Forum’s Bethlehem Project. The Bethlehem Project works with employers to coordinate citizenship assistance at the workplace. A recent article in the Los Angeles Business Journal provides insight into what they have been able to achieve in collaboration with employers in California and across the nation.

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Experiments with Voter Outreach & Technology

BY Connie Malloy
Connie Malloy
Connie Galambos Malloy is Senior Program Officer for the California Democracy pr
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| Apr 07, 2014

To complement our ongoing civic engagement efforts, the James Irvine Foundation and its grantee partners are launching ambitious nonpartisan voter outreach and mobilization efforts for 2014’s primary and general elections. A March 25th convening marked the launch of Irvine’s Voter Outreach & Technology (VOTE) Initiative, a set of field experiments across eight counties, conducted by nine organizations. These organizations will use targeted data analysis and new mobilization strategies, enabled by technology, to encourage voters from traditionally underrepresented populations to make their voices heard.

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Report from the White House on Release of Voting Recs

BY Catherine Hazelton
Catherine Hazelton
As a Senior Program Officer for the California Democracy program, Catherine is e
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| Jan 30, 2014

One year ago, during the 2013 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama announced the creation of a bipartisan commission to identify policy fixes to make voting easier for all Americans. His call resonated with those of us supporting and participating in the Future of California Elections (FOCE), a coalition of election administrators, civil rights groups and election reform advocates. We immediately connected with the White House and sought opportunities to inform the Commission’s efforts. In August, FOCE held a “listening session” for the Commission, at which FOCE members highlighted best practices and provided detailed research and recommendations specific to the needs of California voters.

Last week, after hearing from administrators, researchers, voters and others across the country, the President’s Commission on Election Administration presented him and Vice President Joe Biden with the Commission’s recommendations for improving voting in America. Immediately after, the Commission met at the White House with about 30 stakeholders, including FOCE Director Doug Chapin and myself.

In a refreshing example of bipartisanship, the Commission, co-chaired by the campaign counsel for the Obama and Mitt Romney 2012 Presidential campaigns, unanimously endorsed a wide range of reforms, including online voter registration, increased accessibility for those with disabilities and those who speak languages other than English, expanded voting options like early voting, and modern voting technology.

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President’s Commission Recommends Voting Fixes

BY Catherine Hazelton
Catherine Hazelton
As a Senior Program Officer for the California Democracy program, Catherine is e
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| Jan 22, 2014

When President Barack Obama's Commission on Election Administration released its final report today, making recommendations to improve the voter experience, we were thrilled to see that the Commission acknowledged the Future of California Elections (FOCE) and adopted many recommendations made by its member organizations. Likewise, Doug Chapin and I are honored to represent FOCE's work at the White House today for a meeting about the report’s release.

In his January 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama established the bipartisan Commission in an attempt to ease barriers to voting, such as by finding ways to reduce long lines on Election Day. The Commission, co-chaired by the lead counsel for the Obama and Mitt Romney 2012 Presidential campaigns, held public hearings in four battleground states and conducted "listening sessions" with other groups around the country.

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Guest Post: Immigrant Integration - California Leads the Way

BY Reshma Shamasunder
Reshma Shamasunder
Reshma Shamasunder has served as Executive Director of the California Immigrant
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| Nov 27, 2013

Executive Director, California Immigrant Policy Center

The courage and determination of immigrant Californians have transformed the state – and they will soon transform the nation.

We’re experiencing what Governor Jerry Brown declared a “grand and great transition” towards a more inclusive future. This really is the “Year of the Immigrant” in California.

I’m proud to be a Californian and advocate for immigrant rights during this exciting moment – a feeling reverberating throughout our state’s immigrant communities. Recent victories advance true inclusion of immigrants and lay the groundwork for important fights ahead.

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Refining our Work on California Democracy

BY Amy Dominguez-Arms
Amy Dominguez-Arms
As Director of the California Democracy program, Amy leads strategies aimed at i
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| Oct 21, 2013 1

Improving the health of California's democracy is both an exciting challenge and a formidable task. What's exciting is the possibility of transforming how important public decisions are made, so as to benefit all Californians. Our goal is for California to have a representative electorate, with policymaking bodies incentivized to consider the long term, and public decisions made based on good data about effective solutions.

Also exciting about working in this field is the diverse set of highly capable, committed and strategic organizations here in California that are building alliances across sectors and geographies to change how we make decisions and plan for our future. We are honored to be working in partnership with many of them.

But a challenge we face is that with many aspects of our democracy that could be improved, how do we best approach grantmaking in this arena?

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Guest Post: Election Recommendations for a Presidential Commission

BY Doug Chapin
Doug Chapin
Doug Chapin directs the Future of California Elections project. Chapin has been
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| Sep 12, 2013

By Doug Chapin – Director, Future of California Elections

For nearly two years, a collection of election officials, civil rights advocates and reform groups have come together as part of an initiative known as the Future of California Elections (FOCE) to work on making the state’s voting process more effective and expand voter participation across all of California’s communities. The collaboration has helped lead to numerous legal and procedural reforms, including greater opportunities for voter registration and improvements to the state voter guide.

Last month, FOCE members shared their experiences with members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, a bipartisan body appointed by President Barack Obama to study election practices across the nation and make recommendations on how election administration could improve. The day-long “listening session” in San Francisco was an opportunity for FOCE members to describe their work in California and to help the Commissioners put that work into a national context.

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California Voters and the Media: A Matter of Trust

BY Catherine Hazelton
Catherine Hazelton
As a Senior Program Officer for the California Democracy program, Catherine is e
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| Aug 12, 2013 1

California voters have many opportunities, in fact, responsibilities, to participate in our democracy — from choosing candidates and considering ballot measures to sharing views with policymakers and holding them accountable. To do so effectively requires access to trustworthy, educational and culturally relevant information about public policy and civic issues. Yet, vast changes to the media landscape threaten to undermine access to the information voters need to make effective decisions. Further, the often negative, hyper-partisan tone of political discourse raises concerns about maintaining voter interest in policy issues.



In commissioning a survey of 3,500 California voters, the James Irvine Foundation set out to learn how, in the current media landscape, voters are learning about government and politics, as well as the extent of their interest in these topics. The study, conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates (FM3), and its accompanying infographic, provide useful insights into the consumption of public policy news by California voters, especially among our state’s diverse communities of color.

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Protecting and Improving the Right to Vote

BY Catherine Hazelton
Catherine Hazelton
As a Senior Program Officer for the California Democracy program, Catherine is e
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| Jul 03, 2013
As we celebrate our democracy this Fourth of July, it seems especially appropriate to recognize the many Californians protecting and improving one of our most cherished traditions: the right to vote. For the past two years, Irvine has been supporting about two dozen inspiring leaders working together to expand voter participation and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of California’s election systems.

Earlier this year, the groups participating in this initiative, known as The Future of California Elections (FOCE), published a list of priority goals for 2013. And just last month, the Irvine Board of Directors authorized nine grants totaling more than $3 million over two years to support FOCE Steering Committee members as they seek to achieve these ambitious goals. Irvine expects to make additional FOCE-related grants later this year.

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