The long anticipated results of California’s historic deliberative poll have been released, showing that Californians do believe government can work well, if the system is improved and the state’s leaders and its citizens begin communicating again.
Today at a press conference in Sacramento, What’s Next California released the results of the poll and discussed how it changed the lives of many who were involved.
“Lawmakers should take these results very seriously,” said Lenny Mendonca, who was one of the partners involved in making the poll happen. “Californians were clear on what they wanted: real oversight of their elected officials, a strong and clear initiative process, and much more power devolved to local governments.”
The first ever statewide deliberative poll in California brought together more than 400 California registered voters carefully chosen to best represent the entire voting population of the state. They were polled on a set of issues: state/local reform, fiscal policy, initiative process, and representation.
This massive undertaking has provided some of the most viable polling data around about California’s governance system.
There was a significant increase in the desire for longer state legislative terms, and a decrease in the desire for a part-time legislature. “The participants clearly thought that legislators needed to spend less time campaigning and more time legislating if they were to represent their districts effectively,” said the authors of the analysis.
On the ballot initiative process, attendees were heavily against allowing lawmakers the power to amend an approved initiative, even more so at the end of the weekend. They were, however, in favor of allowing the authors of the initiative to make changes after the fact.
Pastor Joyce Cooksey-James, a poll participant from Sacramento, said the process has changed her life.
“It caused me to reevaluate what we’re telling our young people about the process of being involved in government,” she said. “I am passionate, after having gone through this deliberative process, of the value of having our young people involved in these discussions about what’s going on in our communities and in our legislature.”
She told those gathered that she is so passionate, she has started a group to increase civic engagement among young people, as well as a voter registration effort for 18-25 year olds in Vallejo.
“It was a pleasure to be a part of such a wonderful process,” she said. “We came to the conclusion that we’re all human beings, we all have a vested interest in what happens in California, and we are all viable parts of the process.”
James Fishkin, who spearheaded this effort and has conducted deliberative polls all over the world through Stanford’s Center for Deliberative Democracy took this to mean one thing: “They believe this is the people’s process.”