State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Category: California (page 1 of 5)

Back to School: Noncitizen Parents in San Francisco Able to Vote in School Board Elections

By: Joseph Montgomery

One year ago, San Francisco voters approved a ballot measure that allows noncitizen parents of K-12 schoolchildren to vote in local school board elections.  This measure, known as Proposition N, received 53% of the vote in the November 2016 election.  Specifically, it allows San Franciscan parents, legal guardians, or legally-recognized caregivers to vote for school board members, regardless of their immigration status.  The person must be of legal voting age and not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction.  Proposition N will become effective for the November elections in 2018, 2020, and 2022, and can only be extended after that through an ordinance by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

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Updating the Golden State: California Begins Implementing New Voting Model

 

 By: Joseph Montgomery 

In the wake of the most recent presidential election, many Americans have closely examined not only whom they vote for, but also how they cast their votes.  Part of this examination includes a look at the actual hardware that allows voters to exercise the fundamental right to vote, and also what methods and services are available to voters before, during, and after state and federal elections.  In California, lawmakers have begun implementing legislation that aims to streamline voting procedures for Californians and update voting hardware. 

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Easy Reading? California’s 224-page Voter’s Guide

By: Tyler Sherman

As November 8—election day—drew closer and Californians geared up to cast their ballots, election officials mailed out the state’s Official Voter Information Guide. The guide listed and explained each of seventeen ballot propositions—the most to appear on a single ballot in sixteen years. But not only was the ballot replete with more propositions than in any election in nearly two decades, the Guide itself set the record of being the longest voter guide in California’s history, at an enormous 224-pages long.

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Driving Up The Numbers: Will California’s Motor Voter Law Dramatically Alter The Golden State’s Electorate?

By: Tyler Sherman

With low voter turnout in the recent 2014 elections, pressure mounted on California legislators to act to increase voter participation. In response, California’s state legislature passed, and Governor Jerry Brown approved, the New Motor Voter Act. In essence, the law will automatically register eligible citizens to vote when they use Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) services, such as obtaining a driver’s license. Slated to go into effect in July of 2017, the law has the potential to dramatically alter the Golden State’s future.

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California’s Competing Death Penalty Propositions: What Happens if Voters Approve Both?

By: Chelsea Brewer

On November 8th, California voters will be faced with competing propositions affecting the fate of the death penalty in the State. Both propositions operate on “the premise that the system is broken” and claim that justice will be best served if passed. However, the voters’ options regarding the death penalty’s future are in direct conflict with each other.

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California Secretary of State Certifies VoteCal Ahead of 2016 General Election

By: Chelsea Brewer

On September 26, 2016, the California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, announced that he certified VoteCal as the State’s centralized system of record for voter registration. The online database seeks to ease the voter registration process by providing citizens a single online database where they can register to vote, check their registration status, find their assigned polling places, and more. Just in time for the November 2016 General Election, voters will even be able to confirm that their absentee mail-in ballot or provisional ballot was counted by their respective county elections officials. This is especially significant given states’ interest in preserving voter confidence in electoral administration in the face of skepticism about whether all votes are actually counted. VoteCal will also facilitate upcoming innovations in California election law after the November General Election, which include Election Day voter registration and the New Motor Voter Act.

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California’s New Motor Voter Law Benefits the Young, Not Undocumented Immigrants

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that will allow for automated voter registration at the DMV for citizens obtaining or renewing a driver’s license or state ID. The law is being referred to as the New Motor Voter Act. California lawmakers are attempting to combat historically low voter turnout rates in the state by removing barriers to registration. The law will go into effect on the first of 2016, but it may not be immediately implementable. The goal is to have the system functional by the June 2016 primaries.

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Ballot Initiatives for Marijuana Legalization Track Public Opinion

By Hannah Whiteker

Fans of direct democracy should be excited about the increased use of state ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana use. Direct democracy  allows citizens to enact and change laws, instead of electing representatives to make important decisions for them. One of the ways that the United States utilizes direct democracy is through state ballot initiatives. If a group of voters wants to get an initiative on the ballot to pass a law in their state (there is no initiative process for federal elections), the group must first get enough voters to sign a petition supporting the initiative. The number of signatures required varies by state. If the group satisfies the signature requirement, the initiative is put on the ballot for the next statewide election to be voted on by the people.

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Deciphering Felony Disenfranchisement in Post-Realignment California

In August of 2015, California restored the voting rights to approximately 60,000 former felony offenders who had been improperly disenfranchised as a result of a glitch in the political process. In the whirlwind of California’s recent prison reform acts, these citizens had been inappropriately classified as ineligible to vote in violation of California’s Constitution and election laws. Although the case had already been decided in the voters’ favor by a trial court, it was not until California’s current Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, decided this summer to drop the appeal that these former felony offenders could feel safe registering to vote. But how did such a large number of potential voters end improperly disenfranchised in the first place?

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California Considers Compulsory Voting: Getting out the Vote in the Golden State

By Aaron Colby:

There was little mystery or controversy to California’s elections this year. In the 2014 elections, the historically ‘blue’ state elected a Democrat governor and lieutenant governor by over 15 percentage points each, and chose a democrat for the office of Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, and Attorney General all by greater than 5 percentage points. Democrats hold a supermajority in the State Assembly and are close to having a supermajority in the State Senate. While California has republican representation in its congressional districts, 72% of the State’s congresspersons are Democrat. Continue reading

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