California Voter Foundation Logo


Initiative disclosure reform, election legislation and more

August 9, 2011

Hi Folks,

I hope you are enjoying summer and staying cool! This CVF-News Roundup highlights a new, recently published CVF paper on initiative disclosure, plus several important news stories and developments in recent weeks.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think! You can write to me at, or follow me on Twitter at kimalex3.

-- Kim Alexander, President, California Voter Foundation

New CVF paper recommends reforms to California initiative disclosure

CVF recently published a new paper for the Greenlining Institute, which is leading a year-long project to explore ways to reform and improve California's initiative process.

"Initiative Disclosure Reform - Overview and Recommendations" looks at the history of California initiative disclosure and identifies numerous ways California's laws and voter education programs can be improved to help voters be better informed about the financial interests supporting and opposing propositions on the ballot.

The 23-page paper includes recommendations such as revisiting the so-called "first bite of the apple" rule, which exempts nonprofits that donate to initiative campaigns from having to report publicly where their contributions came from the first time they make an initiative donation.

CVF also recommends moving toward "publicized disclosure", ensuring that information about top donors is placed "under voters' noses" at key points in the initiative lawmaking process - when they are asked to sign petitions, when they consult their ballot pamphlets, and when they cast their ballots.

California's 2012 Presidential Primary to take place in June

The one thing California voters can count on is the ever-changing date of our Primary election! Beginning in 1996, California began experimenting with an early Presidential primary in an attempt to make our state more influential in the presidential nominating process.

In 2000 and 2004, California's presidential primary was also held in March, with non-presidential primaries taking place in June in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010. In 2008, we had two primaries - a Presidential primary in February, which saw a very high rate of participation, and second primary for legislative and congressional seat, where turnout plummeted.

In 2012, California's Presidential primary returns to June, following Governor Jerry Brown's signing of Assembly Bill 80, authored by Assemblymember Paul Fong. One of the strongest, and clearly successful arguments made in favor of this bill was the cost savings for counties in not having to put on two primary elections.

New CA budget brings election cuts and uncertainties for voters

The recently enacted California state budget makes a number of painful cuts to many areas of state government service. One area certain to suffer is elections. The new budget means the state will no longer reimburse the costs of a number of state-mandated local election programs.

These include basic, fundamental election services such as facilitating vote-by-mail balloting and registering to vote through the mail. As a result, county election officials are now saying that counties are no longer obligated to provide those services.

Although the laws themselves have not been rescinded, there are other state laws that require the state to pay the costs of programs that the state mandates. Now that those costs are not being paid,the counties are claiming they are not obligated to follow the law.

Though many registrars have been quick to assure their voters that the services in their own counties will continue, there are 58 counties and so far no guarantee that they will all process registration forms and vote-by-mail ballots.

For more on this potentially looming crisis, see Will Evan's story in California Watch and Lisa Vorderbrueggen's story in the San Jose Mercury News. The Secretary of State's background memo to county election officials is also online.

Videos from Pew's California voter registration conference now online

Last month, on July 14, the Pew Center on the States hosted a conference in Sacramento at the State Capitol to discuss ways to upgrade California's voter registration process. I participated in one of the panel discussions. Videos from the entire conference are now available via the California Channel's web site. You'll find a rundown of the five sessions and links to each session's videos on my blog.

- - - - - - - - - - -

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.

Contact the California Voter Foundation by:

phone - (916) 441-2494
web -
U.S. Mail - P.O. Box 189277, Sacramento, CA 95818

Support CVF's work with a tax-deductible contribution! Learn more at




Site Map | Privacy Policy | About

This page was first published on August 9, 2011 | Last updated on August 9, 2011
Copyright California Voter Foundation, All Rights Reserved.