California Has Made Voting Easier, But Regular Voters Still Skew White and Old, Poll Finds

Voting in California has never been easier.

Eligible residents can get help in 10 languages. Ballots are sent to registered voters’ homes. They have a month to drop a ballot off in boxes around their municipality. That’s on top of multiple days of voting in person and the ability to register to vote up until the last minute.

Despite all that, the people who vote most often remain older, whiter and wealthier than most Californians, according to a new survey from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies.

Just under 4 in 10 of the state’s registered voters are what Berkeley defined as regular voters — those who have cast ballots in at least five of the last seven statewide elections. Berkeley researchers determined the frequency of voting by verifying the voter histories of more than 6,000 registered voters whom they surveyed.

That pool of regular voters is 71% white, a share that is significantly larger than the white share of registered voters. Latinos, at 14%, were underrepresented among regular voters. Those frequent voters were also disproportionately over the age of 50.

Roughly another 4 in 10 registered voters are either infrequent voters — those who have voted only once or twice in the last seven elections — or people who haven’t voted at all despite being registered. That group is about one-third white but about 40% Latino.

Infrequent voters are also much more likely to be young, to be renters and to be unmarried, Berkeley found.

Registered voters who identified as Asian or Pacific Islanders were also more likely to be infrequent voters or to not have cast a ballot in the last seven elections.

Black voters were represented about equally in each group.

Asked why they didn’t vote more often, registered voters who cast ballots infrequently or never cited a lack of information or interest. About 3 in 10 said they didn’t know enough about the candidates or the issues to vote. A similar share said they were “not that interested” in the contests.

About 1 in 4 registered voters who didn’t vote frequently or hadn’t voted at all said they felt their vote didn’t matter much or that no matter how they voted, special interests and big money controlled politics.

Fewer than 1 in 10 said that voting was inconvenient or confusing.

By contrast, those who vote regularly said they did so to “stand up for the candidates and issues I believe are important” (65%), “to influence the direction of state and local government” (64%), or because voting is “an important civic duty” (62%).

The poll results “dramatize the differences that we knew existed. The differences are just profound. … It’s two very different worlds,” said Berkeley IGS poll director Mark DiCamillo.

“The state has invested in trying to make voting easier. That’s what the state is doing when it’s sending out ballots early,” DiCamillo added.

“What still needs to happen is the communication of the value of voting to voters. And that’s the task ahead.”

The prospect of Latino voters coming to the polls in numbers proportional to their 40% share of the state’s population and transforming local and state races has tantalized activists and analysts for years. But it has not come to pass.

The latest example came last year when Rick Caruso ran for Los Angeles mayor.

Part of his strategy rested on the idea that he could engage working-class Latino voters with an army of paid door-knockers and messages about public safety, corruption and homelessness.

Polls showed that those issues potentially could mobilize voters, and Caruso’s large fortune gave him tens of millions of dollars to spend on televised advertising to drive home his message.

Nonetheless, turnout lagged in neighborhoods that were majority Latino, one reason Caruso lost the race to then-Rep. Karen Bass by 10 points. 

California has been relatively successful in getting people registered to vote. The state has just under 22 million registered voters, 82.3% of the eligible population, according to the most recent statistics from the secretary of state’s office. A decade ago, 76% of the eligible population was registered, and a decade before that, 69%.

California’s level of registered voters is significantly higher than the nationwide average, which was 69% in 2022, according to the Census Bureau.

But the state has lagged in actual voter turnout.

In the 2022 midterm elections, California’s turnout was 43% of the voter-eligible population, which ranked the state 35th in the country, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Elections Project, based at the University of Florida.

The state’s efforts to increase voter participation have included a law adopted in 2021 requiring that every voter be mailed a ballot.

A large majority of registered voters, 63%, say voting is easier now that ballots are sent a month before election day, the Berkeley poll found. Just 27% said the new law had caused no change in the ease of voting, and 4% said voting was harder.

Reflecting the partisan division nationwide over voting, 77% of Democrats said that it’s now easier to vote, while among Republicans, 36% said so and 49% said the law had not changed how easy it is to vote.

About two-thirds of registered voters said they thought it was the state’s responsibility to expand voter outreach among underrepresented groups. About the same number of registered voters said they’d back devoting more state money to this mission.

Candidates for statewide office next year — including in the race to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein — have already emphasized the importance of turning out voters who have either been ignored or are not in parts of the state that receive as much attention.

Political consultants in California say, however, that it’s a tall order to engage and excite potential voters who are less well off and are concerned with the tasks of getting through the day.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

Incarcerated Californians Could Vote from Prison Under Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Incarcerated Californians would be allowed to vote from prison under a proposed constitutional amendment announced Tuesday.

The proposal by Assembly Member Isaac Bryan, D-Los Angeles, would let people vote while they are serving a prison sentence. If two-thirds of lawmakers in both chambers of the Legislature approve the proposal, it would go to voters, who would decide whether to change the law. A majority of voters would need to approve the amendment for it to become law. 

“It’s the right thing to do,” Bryan wrote on Twitter. “All of the data shows that voting reduces recidivism and increases the community connectivity for people upon release.”

He also noted that nearly 10,000 veterans are incarcerated in California, and argued that they should be allowed to vote after fighting for their country. Veterans are more likely to become incarcerated than the general public, he said.

California already allows felons who have completed their prison sentence to vote. Three years ago, California voters approved a ballot measure to let people on parole vote, too. Bryan’s proposal, ACA4, would expand that right to people in prison. 

More than 90,000 adults are currently incarcerated in California state prisons, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

If passed, California would join Maine and Vermont in allowing prisoners to vote.

The measure could face a significant hurdle in the Legislature, even though Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers. In 2019, lawmakers passed the proposed amendment allowing parolees to vote by only narrow margins. When it went before voters in the 2020 election, it passed the needed 50% threshold by a wider margin, winning about 59% of the vote.

ACA4 has not yet been assigned to a committee. 

Bryan chairs the Assembly’s elections committee. The Republican who serves as vice chair has already come out against the measure.

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Voter Beware: Divided Government Will Be Utter Chaos

With election day two weeks away, Republican prospects of taking control of the House of Representatives, already strong, appear to have solidified. Barring the unexpected, President Biden’s next two years will be shaped by challenges from a House led by some of his most zealous opponents.

That isn’t unusual; every president for the last four decades has contended with divided government. Sometimes, that has arguably been a good thing — a constructive check on executive power.

Not now.

The House won’t merely be held by Republicans. It will be led by Republicans loyal to former President Trump, many of whom refuse to accept Biden’s legitimacy as president.

Most members of the new majority will have been elected with Trump’s endorsement. There will be almost no Trump critics in the House GOP — none who dare voice their qualms, at least. The caucus has been purged.

Of the 10 House Republicans who voted in favor of impeaching Trump after his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, eight retired or lost primary elections. Only two are still on the ballot.

Of the likely members of the next majority, well more than half have questioned or denied the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. January’s incoming members will, not incidentally, be in the House when it considers the results of the presidential election of 2024.

Meanwhile, the ranks of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus are swelling. The group has been recruiting members among this year’s candidates and is on track to boast at least 46 next year, an all-time high.

The likely next House speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), is a Trump loyalist too. As Republican floor leader during the Trump administration, McCarthy worked to forge a relationship with the volatile president, who rewarded him with the slightly demeaning nickname “My Kevin.” McCarthy broke with Trump oh-so-briefly over the Jan. 6 riot but flew to Mar-a-Lago three weeks later to seek forgiveness.

McCarthy has made clear that other Trump acolytes will gain under his speakership. He has promised Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of the founders of the Freedom Caucus, the chairmanship of the powerful Judiciary Committee. He has promised Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who once suggested that California’s wildfires were caused by Jewish-funded space lasers, a seat on the Oversight Committee, which is likely to launch an investigation of Hunter Biden, the president’s wayward son.

Jordan and the Freedom Caucus were once considered GOP gadflies, in-House critics who challenged the less disruptive conservatism of Speakers John Boehner and Paul D. Ryan. Greene was considered an outlier whose ability to grab headlines was a problem, not an asset.

No longer. Both are now core members of a GOP conference whose mission is to fight the Biden administration to a standstill. Their agenda begins with deep spending cuts in domestic programs, which they argue are needed to shrink the federal budget deficit and quell inflation.

Some members have already declared their willingness to shut down the federal government to get their way.

“Shut it down if necessary,” Rep. Bob Good of Virginia said last week. “Gridlock is a good thing compared to the alternative.”

Even worse, several have said they plan to block an increase in the federal debt ceiling — a move that would raise the specter of the government defaulting on its debts and risk a global financial crash. McCarthy said he too would be willing to block a debt limit increase as a tactic to force spending cuts.

“OK, we’ll provide you more money, but you got to change your current behavior,” he told the newsletter Punchbowl News.

Government shutdowns and debt-ceiling hostage dramas tend to backfire on the party that launches them. Most voters don’t enjoy watching the economy being held hostage by politicians. McCarthy presumably knows that — but he also knows his majority includes many who would relish a showdown, either on principle or to pander to right-wing voters.

In another sign that Republican radicals are in the ascendance, McCarthy said he wants to impose limits on future U.S. aid to Ukraine, a hobbyhorse of Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

“Ukraine is important, but … it can’t be a blank check,” McCarthy said.

It adds up to a recipe for a series of collisions — not only with the Biden White House but with the Senate. No matter how the election turns out, the Senate is almost certain to be narrowly divided between the parties — and because of its 60-vote filibuster rule, any major legislation will need support from at least a few senators on both sides.

In an earlier generation, Americans often viewed divided government as a sensible way to check the power of the president and even an opportunity for bipartisan deal-making.

Virginia’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin sought to evoke that brand of nostalgia this month, arguing that GOP control of Congress could be “a calming influence.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Mail-in ballots found in dumpster in Lake Elsinore

The Nov 8 election ballots and voter information guides were recovered and delivered the same day

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

An investigation is under way after mail-in ballots and voter information guides for the Nov. 8 election were found inside a dumpster at a Lake Elsinore apartment complex, officials said.

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters received a report about the discovery on Wednesday, Oct. 19, the registrar’s office said in an emailed statement. The U.S. Postal Service confirmed the report.

It’s unclear how many ballots and guides were found in the dumpster or where the apartment complex in question is located. A resident reported on social media that at least 100 pieces of election-related mail were in the trash.

The ballots and guides were recovered and mailed the same day, the registrar’s office and postal service said. Elections officials and postal service inspectors are investigating and the matter has been referred to law enforcement, according to Patrick Munar, a registrar’s spokesperson.

A referral also was made to the postal service inspector general, postal service spokesperson Duke Gonzales said via email.

“We take very seriously any allegation of mishandling mail,” Gonzales said.

On Facebook, Lake Elsinore resident Jennifer Bollman posted two photos of what she said were the ballots and guides found in the dumpster.

A neighbor discovered the material in the dumpster while taking out the trash, Bollman wrote.

“She recovered what she could and placed (them in) front of our mailboxes but there were still over 100 left in the dumpster that she could not reach,” Bollman’s post read.

She also wrote: “This is ABSOLUTELY NOT RIGHT. This is why we should not have Mail-In Ballots unless requested. Our election system is corrupt and this is why. I don’t care what your political affiliation is. THIS SHOULD BE TAKEN VERY SERIOUSLY.”

Voters concerned that their ballot or voter guide may have been affected by the incident can call postal service consumer affairs at 858-674-2670 or the postal inspection service at 877-876-2455.

In an effort to make voting more accessible, every California registered voter is mailed a ballot ahead of the November election. Oct. 10 was the deadline for registrars to start mailing ballots.

Voters can sign up at california.ballottrax.net to get an email or text when their vote-by-mail ballot is mailed and when their ballot is received and verified by their local registrar.

Voting by mail has come under scrutiny, especially among Republicans, over concerns the ballots could be compromised.

Election audits and investigations by media outlets and other groups found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S. Riverside County officials insist voting by mail is safe and that the system has built-in protections against fraud and voters who try to cast multiple ballots in the same election.

Click here to read the full article in the Press Enterprise

Polls Show California Democrats’ Agenda Is Increasingly Losing the Backing Of Voters

George Gascon, Los Angeles County’s progressive, Soros-funded district attorney, has lost the support of 98% of his prosecutors’ union members. Three “woke” members of the San Francisco Board of Education were recalled by more than 70% of the vote. This is not a California I have been familiar with in recent years. Could it be that voters are waking up to llife under the progressive agenda? Is it possible that they are finally ready to consider an alternative because they understand that it is the Democrat’s liberal policies that have brought about this unlivable reality? My optimism is triggered, but my breath is not held.

While these examples show voters are willing to break from the blind loyalty that has been shown to Democrats, two things remain to be seen. First, can this newfound independence apply more broadly in circumstances that are less personal? What I mean is, can San Franciscans who were fed up with these elected officials translate that outside their own county and consider different candidates statewide? And can Angelenos who might give the boot to Gascon because of what he has done in their own backyard think beyond a Democrat for state Attorney General?

Unless these voters understand that what the state desperately needs is new policies, not simply different faces, there can be no meaningful change.

There is additional cause for a positive outlook. A new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll shows Gov. Newsom’s approval ratings slipping. As the pandemic wanes, voters are turning their attention back to the serious issues still gripping our state. Of the 10 issues specifically posed to voters, who were asked how well Newsom has handled them, he fairs abysmally on nearly every one. On the issue of crime, respondents were two and a half times more likely to disapprove of the governor’s handling of the issue than approve. On homelessness, his unfavorable number was six times his favorable number. When asked about education, the state budget, drought, wildfires, and health care, disapproval bested approval by more than 10 points. Health care and the economy were not far behind, with 9 and 7-point spreads, respectively, favoring disapproval. Only climate change saw a Newsom advantage and that was by just one point (within the two-point margin of error).

And Newsom’s overall job approval rating has declined to 48%. However, Newsom only had 50% approval in September 2021, but beat the recall effort that month with 62% of the vote.

The problem is that, while many do not approve of the job Newsom is doing, they just cannot see themselves voting for a Republican. It is going to take an exceptional candidate who can articulate an effective message of change and optimism without allowing the left to distract voters with Trump, abortion (which is enshrined in our state’s Constitution regardless of challenges to Roe v. Wade), or anything else that takes the focus off the dumpster fire they have turned this once “Golden State” into.

Click here to read the full article at the Fresno Bee

Memphis BLM Founder Pamela Moses Sentenced To 6 years For Illegally Voting

The founder of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Memphis has been sentenced to prison for six years for illegally registering to vote in Tennessee, prosecutors said.

Pamela Moses, the 44-year-old activist, was ordered to spend six years and one day behind bars Monday for registering to vote despite felony convictions in 2015 that made her ineligible to do so, Shelby County District Attorney General. Amy Weirich said.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Michael Ward accused her of deceiving the probation department to obtain the right to vote,

“You tricked the probation department into giving you documents saying you were off probation,” Ward said in court, the Washington Post reported.

In 2015, Moses pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and forgery, both felonies, and to misdemeanor charges of perjury, stalking, theft under $500, and escape.

She was placed on probation for seven years and deemed ineligible to vote in Tennessee because of the tampering with evidence charge.

Moses has maintained that she was under the impression that her voting rights had been restored when she went to vote in 2019.

Click here to read the full article at NY Post

Court Approves Lying to Voters to Pass Bonds

If ever voters needed a reason to vote no on every single bond measure that appears on the ballot, here it is: The Court of Appeal for Third Appellate District just ruled that, despite all the lies voters were told about California’s infamous High-Speed Rail project, taxpayers have no remedy, even though the project as it exists today bears no relation to what voters were told when they approved the $9.9 billion bond in 2008.

Californians were promised a super-fast train that would travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco in about two and a half hours; the ticket price would be about $50; the total cost of the high-speed rail would be about $40 billion; and there would be significant private-sector support –money from investors — to build the project.

Even before the 2008 vote, transportation experts were warning that the project would become a massive black hole into which California taxpayers would be committed to pouring hundreds of billions of dollars. In fact, a 2008 study sponsored by the Reason Foundation and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation predicted that the promised total cost of $45 billion would quickly turn into $100 billion or more, stating that “There are no genuine financial projections that indicate there will be sufficient funds.” The only error in the study now appears that the dollar amount was too low.

The HSR project has been the target of multiple lawsuits, including a few that challenged the legality of the entire enterprise. But it now appears that the last legal roadblock to this continued wasting of taxpayer dollars has been removed. In Tos v. State of California, the court ruled that even though nothing the voters were promised in 2008 could possibly become true, the bonds could now be sold to finance the project.

There is a disturbing message here for all California voters and taxpayers. When it comes to bond measures, nothing that is promised in the law authorizing the bond is worth the paper it is written on. If a bond act states that voter approval will authorize the construction of a high school, don’t be surprised if the revenue is later used for a prison. While that may be an extreme example, it is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Even more disappointing is the fact that whenever a state or local government spends bond funds for a project that deviates in substantive ways from what was described in the ballot material presented to the voters, there will be no legal remedy. The voters’ only option to prevent this bait-and-switch is to adopt a policy of blanket rejection of all bond measures.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

Proposed Bill Would Let 17-Year-Olds Vote in All California Elections

VotedCalifornia doesn’t have a particularly high opinion of the maturity of 18-year-olds, who can join the military but who can’t legally buy alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or firearms until they’re 21.

But Assemblyman Evan Low (pictured), D-San Jose, wants to go in a different direction on voting. He has introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8, which would lower the voting age from 18 to 17. First it needs to get two-thirds support in both the Assembly and the Senate, then approval of a majority of state voters.

Twenty-three states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 on the day of the general election. Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo, has introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4 to allow such voting in California.

But according to a San Francisco Chronicle analysis, no state allows voting at age 17 in general elections.

“Lowering the voting age will give a voice to young people and provide a tool to hold politicians accountable to the issues they care about. Young people are our future, and when we ignore that we do so at our own peril,” Low said in a statement provided to the Sacramento Bee.

Last year, Low’s similar proposal got 46 votes in the Senate – eight shy of the two-thirds threshold. He believes with Democrats now holding 61 of the Assembly’s 80 seats and 29 of the Senate’s 40 seats, his chances of making the ballot are much improved.

Republicans have been generally opposed to Low’s measure at least partly for partisan reasons. Polls in recent years have shown younger voters lean strongly to the left – to the point where a Gallup survey from last August found more of those aged 18 to 29 had a favorable view of socialism (51 percent) than capitalism (45 percent).

San Francisco nixed 2016 measure lowering voter age

But it’s not clear if Democrats will see the change as a way to gain a political advantage or are even enthusiastic about the idea. In May 2016, in San Francisco – where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 8 to 1 – the Board of Supervisors put Measure F on the November ballot, which would have lowered the voting age to 16 for local elections. But voters rejected it 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent, a 15,000-vote spread.

The debate over the measure likely foreshadowed the debate to come in the Legislature over Low’s bill.

Supporters said 16- and 17-year-olds were as capable as adults of making smart, informed election choices. They also said the voting change would promote awareness of civics at a time when polls show many young people are unfamiliar with basics about democracy.

Critics questioned why the measure had such a different view of young people’s maturity when it came to voting than with other adult privileges.

The close election may have been swung by a critical Chronicle editorial in September 2016.

“Young people must wait until the age of 21 to drink alcohol and, in California, smoke tobacco. They must wait until the age of 18 to serve their country,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote. “It makes no sense for San Francisco to send the message that voting is a responsibility any less serious than these are.”

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Proposed ballot measure would let California parolees vote

Photo credit: Michael Coghlan via Flickr

Photo credit: Michael Coghlan via Flickr

Tens of thousands of parolees would be allowed to vote under a state constitutional amendment proposed Monday by California’s secretary of state and Democratic lawmakers who called it the next civil rights issue.

The proposal intended for the 2020 ballot would help nearly 50,000 felons who have served their time adjust to being back in the community, said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and other advocates. Parolees currently are prohibited from registering to vote in local, state or federal elections.

California is one of several states that have or are considering expanding voting rights for felons. The proposal would include murderers, rapists and others convicted of violent crimes. It would not affect criminals until they are released from custody, unlike in some other states.

The proposal continues California’s pattern in recent years of reducing sentences and increasing earlier releases from prison, said Christine Ward, executive director of the Crime Victims Action Alliance. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press

Exporting California’s Redistricting Change

VotedIt is an old adage that California is a bellwether for the nation. Policy changes that happen here often flow eastward from tax revolts to climate strategies. Newly elected governor Gavin Newsom boldly predicted that recent California policies are the future for the rest of the country. Time will tell, but the idea that California political ideas will move the rest of the country is being tested currently, led by another of the Golden State’s governors.

Last week, former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hosted a Terminate Gerrymandering Summit at his USC Schwarzenegger Institute. On hand were leaders of four states, Michigan, Utah, Colorado, and Missouri, that saw successful ballot propositions approved in recent elections to take the power of drawing districts from legislators and give it to independent committees.

Calling the art of Gerrymandering (the word comes from an 1812 Massachusetts state senate district drawing signed by Governor Gerry with one district shaped like a salamander) a “200-year old scam,” Schwarzenegger celebrated the electoral victories, which he said, now means that one-third of congressional districts nationally are no longer drawn by politicians.

The exuberant former governor went a bit overboard in declaring that redistricting is now “hip.” However, it’s not a stretch to understand that when people listen to arguments about politicians choosing their own voters under Gerrymandering that the fairness issue weighs heavily on the side of change.

Both political parties have practiced the art of Gerrymandering—drawing districts that would guarantee safe party seats.

There are efforts in Texas and North Carolina to undo Republican Gerrymanders and in Maryland to end a Democratic Gerrymander.

The success of the Utah proposition in a solid Republican state was built on campaign material quoting Republicans Ronald Reagan and Schwarzenegger on the undemocratic aspects of Gerrymandering.

Schwarzenegger was a principal supporter of California’s Proposition 11 in 2008 to draw electoral boundaries for state assembly and senate districts. That was followed two years later by Proposition 20, filed by Charles Munger, Jr., to add the task of redistricting congressional seats to the newly created commission’s responsibilities.

Schwarzenegger reminisced about leaders of Democratic and Republican caucuses fighting fiercely when he was governor over some policy issue only to call him later and say they were united in their opposition to his effort to support the initiative to end Gerrymandering. He said then (and now) Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi spearheaded an effort that supplied millions of dollars to defeat the measure.

Kathay Feng of Common Cause, one of the lead organizations attempting to end Gerrymandering around the nation, recalled once receiving a call from a San Francisco legislator (unidentified but a Democrat, of course—San Francisco) demanding that no more Asian voters be put in her district.

Schwarzenegger intends to continue the effort to push his California message nationally during the 2020 elections. He set a goal that two-thirds or more of the congressional districts drawn after the 2020 census will be in the hands of independent commissioners.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

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