California has the largest, most diverse electorate of any state in the nation. Yet our voting population does not mirror that diversity, and California ranks near the bottom nationally in the percentage of eligible citizens actually registered to vote. As part of Irvine’s California Democracy program, we support efforts to expand election policies and practices that result in more Californians, across demographic groups, participating in elections.
Late last year, Irvine brought together a diverse group of organizations and individuals to develop a vision for the future of the state’s elections. This group included election officials, civic organizations, advocates and experts on elections policies and practices — all of whom care deeply about strengthening California’s democracy. Over three months, the group met to discuss the challenges and opportunities for reforms in various aspects of the voting and elections process, as well as the roles each group might play in advancing those reforms.
In December, the group released a Roadmap for the Future of California Elections laying out its vision for modernizing and improving the state’s election systems. The Roadmap included the following set of 10 guiding principles, which were unanimously endorsed by all group members:
The policies and practices that govern California’s elections — and the institutions and individuals responsible for administering them — should:
In addition, participants developed and included in the Roadmap a variety of more specific “goals and recommendations” in four areas: voter registration and education, election administration, voting options and voting technology. The group noted that not every one of these recommendations necessarily reflects the endorsement of every participant, but clarified that “the entire document is enthusiastically supported by all of the participants.”
Read the entire Roadmap for the Future of California Elections.
The document was the result of a remarkably collaborative process designed to go beyond short-term battles over elections policy and reach agreement on a long-term, systemic plan to improve California’s election system. Participants in this elections group will continue to engage a variety of stakeholders in discussion and analysis of its goals and recommendations. And later this year, Irvine expects to make a series of grants to advance some of these recommendations. Stay tuned for future developments.