California once led the nation in voter turnout. Over the past generation, our leadership has evaporated and the state now ranks an abysmal 45th in voter participation. Californians over the last generation have grown disappointed and detached in their government and it shows by how they are (or maybe better said “are not”) voting
We have to change that.
Since California Forward was formed in 2007, one of our goals has been to work to promote ideas, initiatives and programs that can help restore the people’s trust in their government.
While increasing voter participation is really a job for each of us, the administration of California elections falls under the authority of the Secretary of State. We will be electing a new person to that post in 2014, succeeding Debra Bowen, who is termed out of office.
There are already six major candidates on the June ballot which promises to be one of the most interesting (and crowded) statewide races this years. The Top Two vote getters in June will then square off in the November general election.
The six candidates will meet in person for the first time at 7pm on March 3rd in Los Angeles at the California Endowment. It is an event that we are co-sponsoring with a number of organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and the California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities.
This discussion will occur after a daylong meeting of the Future of California Elections, a coalition of organizations that are dedicated to increasing and improving voter participation in the state.
We thought it might be interesting to hear some comments from each of the candidates on why we’ve lagged and how we can improve voter participation.
For this installment, we asked all candidates the following question:
California ranks an abysmal 45th in voter participation…we’ve gone from leader to laggard. Why has that happened?
Here are their answers (some of which are edited for length).