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CA voter registration modernization, CD 36 special election & more

April 13, 2011

Hi Folks,

In this issue of CVF-NEWS:

CA Voter Registration Modernization

At the recent Election Verification Network conference in Chicago, I gave a presentation about the status of voter registration modernization in California. A PDF of the slides is here on the CVF site.

The presentation begins with an introduction to the State Election Website Assessment Project CVF has been engaged with for the past year along with our project partner the Center for Governmental Studies on behalf of the Pew Center on the States. My presentation highlights some of the project's preliminary findings. For example, nearly every state now provides access to online voter lookup tools such as verifying one's registration status and address, with 41 states having provided this service to voters in the 2010 election.

The latter part of the presentation describes the challenges California faces in modernizing the state's voter registration system and the impact delays are having on voters' ability to use the Internet to verify registration or register to vote.

CVF will be focusing on this challenge in the coming years and working to modernize voter registration for Californians.
For more thoughts on the EVN conference, see my March 26th blog post.

AIGA's Top 10 Tips for Ballot Design

At the EVN conference I got acquainted with some fantastic folks who work with the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and its Design for Democracy project, which has produced a wonderful guide in collaboration with the Election Assistance Commission, Top Ten Ballot Design Principles for creating well-designed ballots. Their suggestions include: avoid centered text; use clear, simple language; use contrast and color functionally; and decide what's most important.

The entire Design for Democracy project is resource-rich and provides excellent tools for election officials and advocates who want to improve their ballots and the voting experience.

CD 36 Special Election Update

As many of you know, there is a special election underway in Los Angeles for Congressional District 36, a seat that recently opened up following Jane Harman's decision to resign and take a different job.

This is the first California congressional election to be run under the state's new "top two" primary election system, adopted via proposition by California voters last year, in which voters are free to vote for any candidate of any party regardless of a voter's or a candidate's party affiliation. Two candidates from the same party could face each other in a general election contest if they are the top two vote getters among all candidates in the race.

More official details about the election are available here. The contest has drawn sixteen candidates - five Democrats, six Republicans, one Libertarian, one Peace & Freedom and three nonpartisans. Because of the district's party registration numbers (45% Democratic, 27% Republican and 22% No Party Preference according to the most recent Report of Registration), the seat is considered strongly Democratic. Most political observers expect no candidate will win a majority of the votes in the May 17th primary, which will be followed by a special general election on July 12.

Many election observers around the country are also paying close attention to this race because one of the Democratic Party candidates is current California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Other Democratic candidates include Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn and high school teacher Marcy Winograd; Republican Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin is also running for the seat. These four candidates "met" online on March 24 to participate in a forum sponsored by the Courage Campaign. An audio recording from this forum is available online. A full list of candidates is available here. A CVF map of CD 36 is also available.

Follow CVF on Twitter!

I have joined the rank and file of the Twitterverse and am now tweeting on a semi-regular basis, particularly when traveling and attending conferences and public events. You can follow my activities on behalf of CVF via Twitter - my handle is @kimalex3.

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The California Voter Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting and applying the responsible use of technology to improve the democratic process. CVF-NEWS is a free, electronic newsletter featuring news and updates about the California Voter Foundation's projects and activities.

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U.S. Mail - P.O. Box 189277, Sacramento, CA 95818

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This page was first published on January 3, 2011 | Last updated on April 13, 2011
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