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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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Irvine at 2014 GEO Conference

BY Kevin Rafter
Kevin Rafter
As Manager of Impact Assessment and Learning, Kevin oversees evaluation efforts
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| Mar 10, 2014

My colleagues and I are looking forward to sharing lessons and insights from our work and several initiatives in breakout sessions at the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference this week in Los Angeles. If you are attending the conference we hope to see you at these sessions. Please come up and introduce yourselves! (And if you are not, please join the discussion using the hashtag #2014GEO).

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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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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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Irvine Board Approves $6.89 Million in Grants

BY Thuy Nguyen Kumar
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides project support for a broad ran
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| Oct 11, 2013

Our Board of Directors approved $6.89 million in grants at its quarterly meeting this week. Of the 11 approved grants, five were within California Democracy five in our Youth program and one in Special Initiatives. The meeting was held in Riverside where Irvine staff and board engaged with a number of leaders from both Riverside and San Bernardino counties and visited a Linked Learning school site in San Bernardino.

Here are some highlights of the new grants:

Future of California Elections — Our California Democracy program made grants to organizations engaged in the Future of California Elections (FOCE) project. Center for Civic Design is receiving $230,000 to improve voter participation in California by conducting and disseminating research on how voters obtain information about elections. Together, these grants are designed to modernize California’s election system and increase voter participation.

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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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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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Guest Post: State Elections Experts Begin New Collaborations

BY Doug Chapin
Doug Chapin
Doug Chapin directs the Future of California Elections project. Chapin has been
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| Feb 08, 2013

By Doug Chapin – Director, Future of California Elections

On January 23rd in Sacramento, the Future of California Elections (FOCE) hosted its first public event. FOCE initially formed in late 2011 with help and support from the James Irvine Foundation and is now setting up shop as an independent entity. This meeting was our opportunity to introduce FOCE and its work to the state’s policy community.

As someone who has been helping facilitate the group since its formation in late 2011, and who will be directing FOCE’s efforts going forward, I was both excited and nervous about the event.

I was excited because I believe in the motivation behind the project: identify leaders and practitioners who understand the challenges facing the state’s election system and then help find common ground for policies that will increase participation without sacrificing efficiency or effectiveness. But I was nervous because FOCE was getting ready to expand the conversation beyond its two dozen or so founding members to include policymakers and other advocates from across the state.

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Conference on Future of California Elections

BY Catherine Hazelton
Catherine Hazelton
As a Senior Program Officer for the California Democracy program, Catherine is e
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| Jan 15, 2013 1

Next week I’ll be joining policymakers, elections officials and voter advocates in Sacramento for the first-ever Future of California Elections conference. The event, organized by California Common Cause, will spotlight the collaborative efforts of election administrators, civil rights groups and reform advocates over the last year and a half to expand voter participation and improve the effectiveness of elections in the Golden State.

Working together in 2012, the members of the Future of California Elections successfully advanced same-day voter registration, strengthened the National Voter Registration Act, helped implement online voter registration and improved the state voter guide. Originally brought together by Irvine, the group recently became an independent project to support ongoing collaboration in coming years.

At the January 23 conference, the group will discuss with policymakers and the public opportunities to further improve California elections. Learn more about the conference here, including the full agenda and details about how to register.

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Progress Report on the Future of California Elections

BY Catherine Hazelton
Catherine Hazelton
As a Senior Program Officer for the California Democracy program, Catherine is e
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| Aug 02, 2012 2

Sunny San Diego provided a beautiful backdrop last month for the summer meeting of the California Association of County Clerks and Elections Officials (CACEO), at which members of the Irvine-sponsored Future of California Elections (FoCE) project presented their work to date. The group, comprised of county registrars, civil rights leaders and advocates for effective government, has been collaborating since late 2011 to improve the effectiveness of California elections and increase voter participation. Together FoCE participants established several goals they seek to accomplish in 2012, and the conference provided an opportunity to check in mid-course on their progress.

The results of FoCE participants’ hard work is already quite notable and indicates the exciting potential of this group. For example, based on focus groups FoCE participants conducted with voters and additional research and analysis, FoCE recommended 10 changes to the state voter guide. The Secretary of State welcomed all 10 recommendations and expects to adopt them for the November 2012 guide. FoCE members have also contributed to implementation of the state’s new online voter registration system, resulting in the state’s three major public assistance programs (CalWORKS, CalFresh and Medi-Cal) and two dozen colleges and universities – and counting— agreeing to integrate voter registration into their online applications and websites. More details about the group’s accomplishments to date and plans for the remainder of 2012 are listed below.

One of the highlights of the CACEO conference was hearing FoCE participants describe this unusual partnership. During a panel presentation, Cathy Darling Allen, incoming CACEO President and Clerk/Registrar of Shasta County, light-heartedly shared her initial trepidation of working with FoCE members from the American Civil Liberties Union, Verified Voting, Common Cause and the California Voter Foundation: “For a registrar, these are a bunch of scary women!” Everyone on the panel noted similar initial concerns about working with past adversaries, and expressed pride that just nine months later, they are all working together as close colleagues, advancing shared goals.

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Aaron Pick
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