Announcing FoCE Conference Opening Panel – “Modernizing Elections: Strategies from California, Colorado and Oregon”

On February 25, I will have the honor of moderating a panel at the Future of California Elections’ 2016 conference in Los Angeles. I am eagerly looking forward to the discussion because it will feature elected officials from three states who are primed to make news in the 2016 election cycle –

Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins;
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams; and
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

The focus of the discussion will be innovations being implemented or discussed in California which originated in Oregon and Colorado. In particular, we’ll cover:

“New motor voter” – in 2015, Oregon enacted a new law that uses motor vehicle records to automatically register eligible citizens to vote. That program, which launched in early January, will be closely watched across the country for its impact on both voter participation and the quality of the voter rolls.

“Ballot delivery” – for a few years now, Colorado has been using a new model for an election system that alters the traditional voting approach (where voters come to polling places to cast ballots) and instead mails ballots to all registered voters. Voters can then decide to return those ballots by mail, in a secure dropbox or by casting them at centralized voter service centers.

These topics are particularly important because they are at the centerpiece of Secretary Padilla’s efforts to modernize California’s election system. He has already worked successfully with the Legislature to enact the state’s own version of “new motor voter” (AB 1461) and has announced his intention to work with election officials and other to scale up the “Colorado model” and use ballot delivery in the largest state in the nation.

To give those efforts some context, we’ll ask Secretaries Atkins and Williams to talk about their own states’ experiences and, with Secretary Padilla, explore how these innovations might work in California – with a special focus on

In particular, we’ll look to discuss:

Policy – what does it take for these changes to get enacted, and over what potential objections?
Implementation – how does geography, cost and other factors affect the rollout and subsequent use of these reforms?
Accessibility and outreach – how do these reforms affect different voters, especially a state as diverse as California with many voters from traditionally underrepresented communities, including voters with limited English proficiency and voters with disabilities?
Experience – how are these changes actually working and how might they work in California?

I’ll be especially interested in the Secretaries’ thoughts on how these changes will work in a state as big and as diverse as California.

It should be a fantastic conversation – and I hope you’ll register for the FoCE conference and join us!

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