Voter participation has been trending downward in the U.S. since 1964 in all age groups except those 65 and over. It is a national problem that was particularly noticeable in California is 2014, when only 42 percent of registered voters casted their ballots in the November election. And in many local elections, turnout rates have hovered around 10 percent. By any measure, this is not good for our democracy.
Since 2011, the Future of California Elections (FoCE) has been working on ways to increase registration and improve participation. It is a collaboration between election officials, civil rights organizations and election reform advocates to examine and address the unique challenges facing the State of California’s election system.
At this year’s annual FoCE conference, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins joined California’s Alex Padilla to talk about how their states are attacking the voter participation issue. Both Oregon and Colorado are states that boast high voter turnout and have made moves that make it easier to both register and vote. What’s been called the “Colorado model” of elections has also been shown to save the state time and money.
Williams and Atkins were interviewed by California Forward about their respective voting models and what California might learn from them.