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For Immediate Release, Thursday, October 13, 2005
Contact: Kim Alexander, 916-441-2494
or Zabrae Valentine, 415-869-5904


Commonwealth Club, California Voter Foundation promote project to improve voter participation

Davis, CA – A new project is urging voters to participate in election "house parties" to help each other prepare to make informed, confident choices in the November 8th statewide special election. The Election House Parties project is a collaboration of the Commonwealth Club of California's Voices of Reform project and the California Voter Foundation (CVF), two nonpartisan groups dedicated to improving California civic participation and engagement. The organizations are encouraging California voters to host and attend house parties with friends, family, neighbors and colleagues where participants can easily discuss the eight ballot initiatives in a social setting. A guide to hosting a house party is available online at:

"Every election California voters are confronted with an array of difficult choices," said Kim Alexander, CVF’s president and founder. "Getting together with people you know and trust can help voters make confident decisions," she added, noting that a survey CVF conducted last year found that friends and family play a influential role among infrequent voters.

The Election House Parties project's web site outlines the steps involved in planning a house party and encourages potential hosts to start by setting a date. "Millions of Californians vote, and many wonder what more they can do to encourage greater participation," said Zabrae Valentine, Director of the Commonwealth Club's Voices of Reform project. "Simply inviting some friends over to thrash out the issues on the ballot is an easy, fun and affordable way to make a difference. It also increases the chances that those people will actually vote."

The November 8 ballot includes eight initiatives on topics such as redistricting, the state budget process and prescription drug costs. Alexander said, "Much of the information available to voters comes in the form of television commercials and campaign mailers, which are often designed to confuse and mislead voters." CVF's voter participation survey found nearly half of California's infrequent voters find election information hard to understand, nearly a third find it untrustworthy, and that confusion about the issues and difficulty sorting through voting information are leading reasons why many would-be voters sit on the sidelines at election time.

"A major problem in politics today is that people know they are being manipulated, and so they tune out. We want to have the opposite effect -- by providing easy access to accurate information and encouraging people to talk about the issues we hope to draw them in to the process," said Valentine. "Government needs their input." The Election House Parties project web site informs participants where they can find reliable, nonpartisan information in print and online. Valentine and Alexander stressed that the project is nonpartisan and designed to give participants a range of views on ballot measures. "Our goal is to empower people to make informed choices at the polls, whatever they may be," Alexander said.

The California Voter Foundation is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to advancing the responsible use of technology to improve the democratic process. More information about CVF is available online at

Voices of Reform is a special project of The Commonwealth Club of California, promoting state governance that is responsive, representative, and fiscally sound. The Commonwealth Club is the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit public affairs forum. Founded in 1903, the Club hosts speeches, debates and discussions on topics of regional, national and international interest. For more information, go to


Note: this news release has been updated to reflect new URLs for the Election House Party project resources referenced in the release.

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This page was first published on October 13 , 2005 | Last updated on May 23, 2006
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