Mission and Program Goals


The California Voter Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working through research, oversight, outreach and demonstration projects to improve the election process so that it better serves the needs and interests of voters.

Program Goals (adopted March 2021):

To promote and support:

I.  Every Californian’s full and equal access to opportunities to participate in the voting process.

II.  Robust federal, state and local funding for election administration.

III. Voting system transparency and security, and meaningful audits of ballots in California and nationwide.

Theory of Change:

California is a national trendsetter; reforms implemented in California have led to others adopting similar changes, therefore innovating sound election practices in California can benefit voters nationwide. Second, the Internet has and will continue to transform every aspect of our lives, including how we vote and participate in elections and government; as a trendsetter it is imperative that California set a good example and a high bar when integrating technology into the voting process. Third, California voters collectively have enormous influence through their votes given the size of California’s economy and system of direct democracy and therefore, voters must have access to reliable nonpartisan election information to help them make informed, confident choices using voting systems that are secure and verifiable.


Since 1994, the California Voter Foundation (CVF) pioneered significant democratic reforms in California and beyond, such as requiring paper ballots and post-election audits to publicly verify election results. CVF innovated the Internet as an online tool for voter education, and promoted online registration and voter lookup tools to assist and empower voters. One of CVF’s first major achievements was to shed “digital sunlight” on campaign finance data by requiring electronic filing and online disclosure; in recent years CVF has worked to identify and address the problem of ballot rejection in the vote-by-mail process. CVF pursues its programs goals through research, advocacy, outreach, demonstration projects, networking and public relations.  A longstanding reputation, unwavering commitment to nonpartisanship, devotion to protecting and improving the voting process, and relationships with key institutions, government agencies, the news media and nonprofits enable CVF to be an effective and efficient catalyst for significant reform.

Program Goals in Detail

I. Promote and support every Californian’s full and equal access to opportunities to participate in the voting process.

CVF is committed to ensuring that California voters, regardless of race, ethnicity, language, ability, age, income, education or the county in which they live, enjoy equal access and opportunities to participate in the voting process. We are committed to supporting legislative reforms and policies that will ensure those elected to serve Californians and the laws they enact are shaped by Californians of a diversity comparable to the state’s population. CVF recognizes that longstanding overt and subtle discrimination toward people of color can deter participation and make some would-be voters feel unwelcome. Working to combat this institutional history, and recognizing also that diversity is California’s strength, and must be reflected in its voting public, representatives and policy decisions is at the core of CVF’s program work. It is in the interest of all Californians for those currently underrepresented among voters to feel they are stakeholders and that voting matters.

California voters’ experiences are not the same across the state. County governments administer California’s elections; however their resources vary significantly, resulting in variations in how Californians experience and access the election process. CVF is committed to work to close the racial voting gap.

CVF and others have documented, for example, how variances in county ballot processing procedures can affect both marginalized community members and county voters at large. Specifically, research has shown that Asian-American and young voters have higher rates of mail ballot rejection resulting from signatures determined to not sufficiently match a voter’s signature on file. More research is needed to determine the causes of such disenfranchisement and how to remedy it.

Other examples of county-specific policies that result in unequal voter access include: whether voters can vote early in person before Election Day; the number of early voting days available to voters; whether voters have access to official, secure, 24-hour ballot drop boxes for safely returning voted mail ballots; and whether voters have access to the same services at in-person voting sites.

One way to ensure Californians of every race and demographic group have an equal opportunity to participate in voting is by ensuring they can access and use timely, accurate, and reliable election information. Since its founding, CVF has championed access to election information and tools that enable voters to look up and verify their registration and ballot status. Leaving the job of voter education up to political campaigns and parties ensures that Californians who are not already registered and voting are bypassed and kept in the dark. In light of disinformation campaigns being waged against U.S. elections, it is more important than ever that voters be provided with reliable, nonpartisan election information.  

Examples of programs CVF is pursuing to advance this goal include:

  • Changing California lawmaking and budgeting practices to require that all counties give voters access to the same voting opportunities and services and provide ongoing state funding to support implementation.
  • Reducing the number of rejected vote-by-mail ballots, especially among young and underrepresented voters, through legislation, education, state regulations and outreach.  
  • Monitoring implementation of the Voter’s Choice Act, a 2016 law that permits but does not require counties to adopt a voting process with expanded voting by mail and the replacement of neighborhood polling places with county-wide vote centers open over multiple days.
  • Producing nonpartisan, reliable voter resources for the CVF web site and social media to empower Californians to make informed, confident voting decisions.
  • Exploring potential federal legislative reforms that would give California an equal weight in the Electoral College vote compared to other states in deciding who is elected President of the United States.

II.  Promote and support robust federal, state and local funding for election administration.

CVF is committed to ensuring that election officials at all levels of government have the resources needed to administer secure elections in which voters have confidence in the reliability and accuracy of the results, as well as provide voters with services and resources that encourage participation. Administering secure and engaging elections requires resources; not just technology and equipment, but well-trained and professional local staff and supportive state and federal institutions. Additionally, societal factors like free time, transportation, education, home ownership and security factor into one's ability and desire to be a voter and participate in elections. Providing maintenance funding for elections administration in communities with high percentages of underrepresented voters, young and low income residents will help to combat these issues. Consistency and the amount of funding, security and staff support provided by governments for election administration directly impacts whether voters encounter obstacles or question the integrity of the voting process, which inhibits participation, or are provided the services and have the confidence they need to meaningfully participate in elections.

Examples of programs CVF is pursuing to advance this goal include:

  • Supporting funding in California’s state budget to help pay for election administration and voting system securityupgrades.
  • Researching county funding patterns to determine variations in the commitments made to supporting elections and the democratic process, including each county’s demographic makeup and turnout demographics.
  • Exploring and promoting the need for ongoing federal grant programs to help states improve their voting system equipment and security.

III.  Promote and support voting system transparency and security, and meaningful audits of ballots in California and nationwide.

CVF has long been a champion of voting security and will continue to provide leadership in this crucial area. California made significant improvements in its voting system security between 2003-2008. But more work is now needed to keep California at the forefront of verifiable elections. In particular, all ballots cast in California must be subject to auditing so that any errors or interference in the balloting process can be detected and so that voters can verify the accuracy and integrity of election officials’ work.  Those who conduct our elections are also part of election security and their physical protection is critical to conducting secure elections as well. CVF has long opposed internet voting and will work to find acceptable alternatives to the email and fax voting already underway.

Examples of programs CVF is pursuing to advance this goal include:

  • Monitoring California voting system certification and participating in the development of voting security regulations.
  • Exploring new approaches to post-election auditing such as the implementation of risk-limiting audits.
  • Participating in the Election Verification Network and supporting election verification efforts across the US.
  • Supporting the development of disclosed open source voting technology to bring greater transparency and provide an alternative to proprietary voting systems.
  • Supporting protection of the physical and personal security of election officials and their staff members and volunteers.
  • Educating voters about how elections and voting equipment work to inform voters and fight disinformation on social media and other platforms


CVF Program Goals, 1994-2021