Mission and Program Goals

Mission

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

CVF's current program goals, adopted by the Board of Directors in June 2018, are to promote and support:

  1. Californians’ right to equal treatment and opportunities to participate in the voting process.
  2. Robust federal, state and local funding for election administration.
  3. Voting system security and meaningful audits of ballots in California and nationwide.

Background

Since 1994, the California Voter Foundation (CVF) has championed major reforms in voting and elections law and policy. CVF has developed a successful track record helping to achieve significant improvements that benefit voters in areas such as election security, voter education and campaign finance disclosure. CVF's longstanding commitment to nonpartisanship, devotion to protecting and improving the voting process to better serve voters, and relationships with key institutions, government agencies and nonprofits enable CVF to be an effective catalyst for significant reform. CVF’s mission and goals build on its past successes as well as its knowledge of the important role technology plays in elections.

Strategy

Through research and oversight projects, CVF examines election trends and identifies needed reforms to improve the election process. Through advocacy and public relations, CVF highlights and advances changes in public policy needed to improve voter confidence and participation in the democratic process. CVF’s outreach work publicizes its research, advocacy and oversight utilizing media relations, online and social media and partners to shine a light on important developments, challenges and opportunities. Through demonstration projects, CVF shows how new tools can be offered to better serve voters.  Recognizing California’s political impact on the rest of the nation, CVF also believes it is crucial that the state implement reforms that can positively influence the entire country.

Programs to Advance CVF’s Goals
 

I. Promote and support Californians’ right to equal treatment and opportunities to participate in the voting process.

CVF is committed to ensuring that California voters, regardless of the county in which they live, enjoy the same access and opportunities to participate in the voting process. Increasingly, California voters’ constitutional right to equal treatment and protection is being eroded through the enactment of state laws that permit but do not require counties to provide voters with services and conveniences, particularly in the vote-by-mail balloting process.

CVF and others have documented, for example, how counties process mail ballots under varying standards and procedures, resulting in some voters being subjected to a greater chance of having their ballots rejected and being disenfranchised. Additional examples of inequality in voter treatment include: whether voters can vote in person the weekend before Election Day; whether voters can request a vote-by-mail ballot by phone or online; whether voters have access to timely online lookup tools that allow them to verify that their vote-by-mail ballots were received and counted; and whether voters are provided postage-paid vote-by-mail ballot return envelopes.

One way to ensure all Californians have an equal opportunity to participate in voting is by ensuring they can access and use timely, accurate, and reliable election information online. Since its founding, CVF has championed online election information and tools that enable voters to look up and verify their registration and ballot status. In light of the disinformation campaign waged by our nation’s adversaries in past elections, it is more important than ever that voters can locate and access reliable, nonpartisan election information.

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

  • Promoting changes in California lawmaking and budgeting that moves away from adopting optional laws and toward requiring that counties give all voters access to the same voting opportunities and conveniences and then provide the state funding that is needed to support the implementation of such laws.
  • Working to reduce the number of rejected vote-by-mail ballots through legislation and by supporting litigation that challenges current California law allowing counties to reject voters’ vote-by-mail ballots for non-matching envelope signatures without first notifying voters and giving them an opportunity to submit a valid signature and have their ballots counted.
  • Researching the scope of unequal treatment of voters across California counties in order to identify issues that impact voting rights and voter participation.
  • Monitoring the implementation and assessing the impact of the Voters Choice Act (2016) a 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, the net result being significantly different experiences for voters in participating and non-participating counties.
  • Producing nonpartisan, reliable voter resources such as the “California Online Voter Guide” and “Proposition Song” to empower Californians to make informed, confident voting decisions.

2.  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. 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 upgrades.
  • Researching county funding patterns to determine variations in the commitments made to supporting elections and the democratic process.
  • Exploring and promoting the need for ongoing federal grant programs to help states improve their voting system equipment and security.

3.  Promote and support voting system 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.  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 increased funding for more secure voting technology.
  • Supporting efforts to protect voter data privacy and ensure citizens can register and participate in the voting process without putting their personal data at risk.

 


CVF Program Goals, 1994-2017