Schedule at a Glance
Schedule subject to change. Sessions with an * (asterisk) will be available for viewing online for remote attendees.
9 - 10 AM
Welcome & Opening Keynote *
Justin Levitt, White House Senior Policy Advisor for Democracy and Voting Rights
A nationally recognized scholar of constitutional law and the law of democracy, Professor Justin Levitt
is the White House Senior Policy Advisor for Democracy and Voting Rights. While serving the White House, he is on leave from Loyola Law School. Amongst his many impressive credentials, Levitt served in various capacities for several presidential campaigns, including as the National Voter Protection Counsel in 2008, helping to run an effort ensuring that tens of millions of citizens could vote and have those votes counted. Before joining the faculty of Loyola Law School, he was counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, for five years. He also worked as in-house counsel to the country's largest independent voter registration and engagement operation, and at several nonprofit civil rights and civil liberties organizations.
10:15 - 11:15 AM
Morning Concurrent Sessions (Choose One)
After Prop 17: Next Steps for Ending Disenfranchisement in California
In November 2020, nearly 10 million CA voters successfully passed Proposition 17 - restoring the right to vote to people on parole. While Prop 17 was a critical victory for nearly 50,000 voters, the state constitution still disenfranchises Californians in prison. There are also hundreds of thousands of eligible California voters who experience "de facto" disenfranchisement because of barriers related to a criminal arrest or conviction. How can California increase access to democracy for people impacted by the criminal legal system? Advocates from the Prop 17 "Free the Vote" campaign discuss what's next in the fight to end felony disenfranchisement in California.
Creating Impact and Empowering Communities Through Culturally Informed Digital Campaigns
As the CA Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC) considered new district maps in 2021, the proposed draft maps showed that the congressional district representing the West San Gabriel Valley (WSGV) would be split. This split would separate historically connected neighboring communities with Asian American majority populations. The Center for Asian Americans United for Self-Empowerment (CAUSE) moved quickly to begin alerting community members and community organizations to develop a plan to advocate for the WSGV to be kept whole and prevent the dilution of the Asian American community’s voting rights and political power. CAUSE implemented a multi-lingual organizing and digital communications campaign directly causing the CRCC to make a change in an unusual move following the release of the draft maps to reunify WSGV. This presentation will go over organizing and communication strategies utilized by CAUSE in partnership with ethnic media, academic experts, policy experts, and elected officials for this successful effort. Explore how to create impactful and culturally based campaigns to raise awareness and empower communities to advocate for their needs.
Challenges and Opportunities of Immigrant Voting Laws *
Non-citizen voting has existed in this country since the founding, however, over time the right has waxed and waned. Over the last couple decades non-citizen voting has become increasingly popular with several major and smaller cities and municipalities successfully passing laws that allow non-citizens to vote. Despite these laws, implementation continues to be a challenge. We would like to discuss and explore the case study of San Francisco within the national movement, including best practices from various stakeholders involved in the voting process.
15:15 - 11:45 AM
11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
Morning Concurrent Sessions - Round II (Choose One)
Building Capacity to Reach and Engage California’s Diverse Electorates: “Non-Traditional”
Community Groups as Trusted Messengers *
Many non-profit, non-partisan voter engagement organizations have a long history of conducting effective voter education and mobilization, but as the state’s electorate becomes larger and more diverse, these organizations may not always be able reach every underrepresented voter in the communities they serve. This session will focus on how experienced voter engagement organizations are leveraging their resources to build capacity within their communities, particularly within trusted community organizations that do not traditionally conduct voter engagement. Panelists from diverse communities will address how to identify partners, how to share best practices, and how to integrate voter engagement into the other program activities of community organizations.
Engaging Housing-Insecure Voters in the Voting Process
The homelessness crisis in California has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, worsening many of the conditions this population already experiences. Now more than ever, these individuals need a voice to address these conditions but engaging this group of constituents comes with many challenges due to the various systemic barriers and constraints limiting their ability to vote. The barriers and constraints are not limited to housing-insecure individuals and affect other marginalized groups, overall threatening our democracy. This panel serves to discuss strategies on how to engage housing-insecure voters in the voting process and areas where improvements can continue to be made.
FAIR MAPS or Not? A Review of the 2021 Local Redistricting Cycle
The 2020 redistricting cycle was unique, and not only because of the months-long delay in the release of census data. In 2019, the Legislature passed the FAIR MAPS Act (AB 849, Bonta), the most significant overhaul of California’s city and county redistricting process in generations. The FAIR MAPS Act required cities and counties to engage in public outreach and provide greater transparency in the redistricting process and imposed new, ranked criteria for map-drawing. In addition, through a combination of state legislation and local ballot measures, more than a dozen cities and counties established local independent redistricting commissions to redraw their election districts, instead of the city council or board of supervisors. This panel will discuss some of the successes and challenges of the recently completed 2020 local redistricting cycle, and possible changes to improve the process in future cycles.
2:00 - 3:30 PM
FoCE Talks on Disinformation * (All Attendees)
Disinformation, Trust, and Attacks on Election Officials: Exploring Effective Interventions
An explosion of disinformation about elections has led to violent threats and harassment of election officials and election workers, abusive open records requests, and reduced levels of trust in them as they perform their crucial public service. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law (BCJ) and the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University (CAH) have partnered to explore solutions and interventions into this urgent problem. We will briefly present findings from BCJ's polls and interviews of election officials on the matter, as well as CAH's surveys of everyday individuals. Then, we will discuss two very different sorts of interventions. First, we will present findings from research that BCJ and CAH have been conducting, including in Shasta County, CA, into the effectiveness of various actions election officials take to build trust. Second, we will discuss the status of CA Senate Bill 1131, sponsored by BCJ and the California Voter Foundation, which seeks to provide address confidentiality and privacy for election workers.
Civic Engagement in the Disinformation Age
During every election cycle, civil society, journalists, researchers, government, and even voters themselves learn how malignant actors manipulate social media and exploit the shrinking local news ecosystem to spread lies and bigotry meant to sow chaos, undermine our democracy and suppress the vote. In 2020, for instance, foreign and domestic actors targeted Spanish-language and other non-English speakers with election-related disinformation to discourage civic engagement. Tech companies are not neutral actors: they have failed to invest in protecting users across issues and languages. This session brings together California elections officials, election reform advocates, policy advocates, journalists, organizers, and other stakeholders to discuss how we correct course across sectors to disrupt these dangerous phenomena. Together, participants and hosts will consider a roadmap for what traditional and social media can do to limit the spread and impact of harmful content across platforms. We will close with action-oriented next steps for sector-specific audience members to discuss opportunities for collaboration and consensus.
Telling Our Story: How to Ensure Voters Have the Facts they Need
Chris Piper and former NPR voting and elections reporter, Pam Fessler, will present a session on how election officials can more effectively communicate to the voters how we ensure the security of our elections. Chris Piper, former head of Virginia's Department of Elections, will share his story on how Virginia conducted a successful voter education and outreach campaign during Virginia's 2021 Gubernatorial election. This will be followed by Pam Fessler, author of The Elections Group's latest guide, "Telling Our Story: An Elections Communication Guide" and what she discovered for how election officials can communicate effectively with voters as she met with elections officials across the country. Finally, Chris will discuss the variety of new communication materials The Elections Group has developed for jurisdictions to customize at no cost that will help inform voters of the facts about how elections are conducted in this country.
3:45 - 4:45 PM
Afternoon Concurrent Sessions (Choose One)
Automatic: Driving Motor Voter Registration Forward
Experts in National Voter Registration Act/Motor Voter and Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) to discuss expanding AVR to additional agencies. Extending AVR to agencies like Covered CA can help reach more underrepresented voters, especially low-income Californians who don't have a car and don't interact with the DMV. The panel will examine other states which already have AVR in place at non-DMV agencies, and also make space to discuss how the existing Motor Voter AVR system at California's DMV can be further improved to increase registration access and close gaps. I could also present this topic as an individual presentation.
The State of Language Access in California and the Road to an Inclusive Democracy
This panel will provide a brief review of the state of language access in California and provide two case studies of practices and policies that increase access to limited English proficient voters. The first case study will focus on Partnership for the Advancement of New American’s (PANA’s) work with others to successfully advocate for language coverage beyond the communities covered by federal and state laws in the County of San Diego. The second case study will focus on San Mateo County’s partnership with community-based organizations to conduct outreach and education in hard-to-reach communities.
Engaging Young Voters with New Media*
Young people across the country are taking up the torch when it comes to social and civic issues and are more energized than ever! How can we convert that energy into voting power? This panel will explore how organizations are using tools like social media and podcasts to reach this untapped voting block. With innovation and strategy, we can all help the next generation of voters cast their ballots and make their voices heard!
5 - 5:30 PM
Closing Keynote *
Dr. Mindy Romero, Center for Inclusive Democracy at the USC Sol Price School for Public Policy
Mindy Romero, PhD is the founder and director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy (CID), formerly known as the California Civic Engagement Project, which is part of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and is based in Sacramento, California. Romero is a political sociologist and holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on political behavior and race/ethnicity, and seeks to explain patterns of voting and political underrepresentation, particularly among youth and communities of color in California and the U.S.
5:30 - 6:30 PM
Reception and Networking
Sessions marked with an * will be part of the FoCE Virtual Conference Experience.