About the Conference

The Future of California Elections (FoCE) Conference brings together elections officials, election reform advocates, researchers, organizers, and other stakeholders to discuss key topics in voting and elections, build relationships, and together begin to imagine a future for our elections that better serves all voters.

Our theme this year, "California's Rapidly Changing Political Environment & the Full Engagement of the State's Electorate" seeks to help us think together about the state of our democracy and elections in California, and build upon the momentum and innovations we are driving in build a fully engaged electorate that is inclusive and fully representative of all Californians. We may be leading the way in California, but there is still much work to be done - and we're bringing together leading thinkers and advocates across the spectrum of elections stakeholders to discuss, inspire, innovate, and envision elections and a democracy that is more inclusive of us all.

Hyatt Regency Sacramento
1209 L Street, 
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 443-1234

The conference does not have a reserved block of hotel rooms for attendees. If you wish to stay overnight, you should book your room through the hotel website.  Parking is available at the hotel, and the Conference has negotiated reduced rates for attendees.  You may purchase reduced rate parking with your registration.
Meet our Keynote Speakers
Assemblymember Gail Pellerin
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 28th district
Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D.
California Secretary of State
Cathy Darling Allen
Shasta County Clerk and Registrar of Voters
Tani Cantil-Sakauye
president & CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California
Note: This schedule serves as a summary of the FoCE Conference agenda. Please find a more detailed version here
8:00 AM
9:00 AM - 10:15 AM
Opening Keynote & Welcoming Remarks
Opening keynote from Assemblymember Gail Pellerin, Member of the California State Assembly (Regency Ballroom)
With just shy of three decades serving as Santa Cruz County’s chief elections official, Assemblymember Gail Pellerin brings a unique perspective on promoting voter and civic engagement to her role as Chair of the Assembly Elections Committee. In her remarks, Assemblymember Pellerin will discuss strategies for closing participation gaps in California’s electorate. She will highlight the importance of not only closing gaps in voter registration, but also the need to take concrete action to encourage registered voters to become active voters. She will focus on the need for year-round outreach and emphasize the ways in which collaboration between elections officials and trusted community partners allows for the development of creative ways to engage and educate the electorate. Recognizing the increasing misinformation about and mistrust of the electoral process, Assemblymember Pellerin will highlight the critical work being done by California’s elections officials and emphasize the importance of ensuring all local officials have the tools to continue conducting elections fairly, accurately, and with integrity. 

Welcoming remarks from Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D., California Secretary of State (Regency Ballroom)
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Breakout Sessions - Round I
Protecting Voters of Color from Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation in Election 2024: Re-building Trust in Our Democratic Institutions (Big Sur)
Voters of color have long been the targets of Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation (MDM) efforts that aim to hinder their full participation in the American political process. In recent election cycles, the ease of disseminating election MDM through social media and traditional media platforms has contributed to a dramatic increase in MDM efforts, which has greatly eroded our communities’ trust in our institutions. This panel will bring together an experienced group of election advocates, researchers, and leaders, to discuss the impact of MDM on Election 2024 and the electorate, both in California and nationwide. Presenters will also provide attendees with strategies and best practices to counter MDM as we prepare for Election 2024.

- Jacqueline Coto, NALEO Educational Fund, State Director of Civic Engagement Policy

- Julio Rivera, NALEO Educational Fund, National Deputy Director of Civic Engagement 
- Myra Miranda, National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), Algorithmic Transparency Partnerships Manager
- Jinxia Niu, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Program Manager
- Drew Liebert, California Institute for Technology and Democracy (California Common Cause project), Executive Director

Lessons from the Ground: How Grassroots Organizers Activate and Mobilize Millions of Voters of Color (Golden State)
In the 2022 General Election, only approximately 11 million of California’s voters cast a ballot, representing a voter turnout rate of about 50%, the lowest since 2014. In the months leading up to any election, community grassroots organizers register people to vote, familiarize voters with the candidates and ballot measures, and then turn people out to the polls. Voter suppression, intimidation, and disinformation campaigns have been pervasive in recent elections, and grassroots organizations have served as trusted messengers to engage and provide support to underrepresented voters to ensure their voices are heard. Many of the missing voices in California’s elections are from voters of color. Panelists will go over best practices, the most current strategies, and challenges in activating and mobilizing voters of color to build a true multiracial democracy from the grassroots organizers’ perspective.

- Laiseng Saechao, California Calls, Policy and Campaign Director

- Lydia Avila, California Calls, Power Building Director
- Michael Lok, AAPIs for Civic Empowerment Education Fund, Field Director
- Jonathan Paik, OC Action, Executive Director
- Kristin Nimmers, California Black Power Network, Policy and Campaign Manager

California Voter’s Choice Act: Where Do We Go from Here? (Carmel)
Recently, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Haas Jr Fund convened voter engagement experts to evaluate the efficacy of the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA), with a close eye on the experiences of BIPOC voters and whether the VCA had closed voter turnout disparities. The evaluation reveals that while known legal barriers have been removed, disparities and drops in voter turnout still exist among communities of color and young voters. In this panel, voting rights and civic engagement experts will provide a history of the VCA, share their takeaways, assess what has been achieved and what hasn’t, and re-imagine what elections officials, state government, and civic engagement groups can do to finally build a representative democracy.

- Sky Allen, Inland Empire United, Executive Director

- James Schwab, Office of Senator Alex Padilla, State Director
- Lori Shellenberger, Voting Rights and Election Reform Consultant
- Cha Vang, AAPIs For Civic Empowerment, Deputy Director of Politics and Partnerships,
- Dean C. Logan, Los Angeles County, Registrar-Recorder and County Clerk
11:30 AM - 12:00 pM
Networking & Refreshment Break
12:00 pM - 1:00 pM
Breakout Sessions – Round II
It’s Giving Elections: Strategies for Increased Voter Participation Among Gen Z and Millennial Voters (Big Sur)
Stubborn voter registration and participation gaps remain among Gen Z and millennial Californians. Only two-thirds of all eligible Gen Z voters, for example, are registered to vote, the lowest of any age group. And their share in the electorate relative to their population continues to be underrepresented. During this session, a panel of Gen Z and millennial community organizers will share their strategies to increase voter participation among these critical voting blocs. From organizing around the issues that impact young people—such as reproductive rights, criminal justice, and climate change— to increasing voter information access, panelists will share recommendations to election officials, philanthropic leaders, and more on how to unlock the political power of the next generation of voters. Their voter participation will determine the strength of California’s democracy.

- Christian Arana, Latino Community Foundation, Vice President of Policy

- Jose Salvador Orellana, LOUD for Tomorrow, Co-Founder and Co-Director
- Gabriela Vazquez, La Defensa, Deputy Director

Digital Immigrants and Election Technology: Revisiting Old Assumptions
(Golden State)
In recent years, many election offices around the country have adopted electronic polling place materials such as electronic pollbooks, replacing their older equipment and procedures. At the same time, many poll workers are senior citizens with limited experience or comfort with electronic devices. Unlike younger digital natives, who have grown up in an electronic age, these digital immigrants are generally portrayed as having less comfort or proficiency with technology and the internet. Poll worker training seeks to increase comfort and ability to use these new materials. In this project we explore two related hypotheses: 1) are older poll workers less able to accurately use these new election tools compared to younger poll workers, and 2) to what degree do individual poll worker perceptions of comfort and proficiency with these new tools correlate to actual effectiveness during elections.

- Donna Linder, Stanislaus County, Clerk and Registrar of Voters

- Dr. Dari Tran, University of the Pacific, Professor of Political Science
- Dr. Melissa R. Michelson, Menlo College, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Political Science

Building On the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to Realize a Fully Engaged Electorate
This session will walk through the history of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and explore whether a more subtle form of disenfranchisement exists today. Voting disparities still exist, with Black voters less likely to vote than white voters. But instead of overt voter suppression, could these disparities result from gerrymandering, unmet needs, or distrust in elected officials? A recent study from Catalyst California highlights that Black voters do not feel like elected officials address their needs. Panelists will explore if we are dealing with subtle forms of disenfranchisement, in which Black people don't participate because they do not feel like their needs and concerns are/will be addressed, and what we can do about it.

- Russia Chavis Cardenas, California Common Cause, Voting Rights and Redistricting Program Manager

- Kristin Nimmers, California Black Power Network, Policy and Campaign Manager
- Aaron Robertson, Catalyst California, Director of Political Voice
- Dr. Mindy Romero, Center for Inclusive Democracy, Founder and Director
- Marc Philpart, California Black Freedom Fund, Executive Director
1:00 pM - 2:30 pM
2:30 pM - 3:15 pM
Plenary from Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, President & CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California (Regency Ballroom)
3:30 pM - 4:30 pM
Breakout Sessions – Round III
Free the Vote: Civically Engaging People Impacted by Incarceration in California (Big Sur)
Voting is a fundamental right of citizenship that has been too long denied, either through law or limited opportunity, to Californians whose lives have been impacted by the criminal legal system. Mass incarceration, along with the legacy of Jim Crow laws that were instituted to neutralize Black and Brown voters, has disproportionately impacted Black, Latino, and Indigenous Californians and resulted in a less representative electorate. This panel will center the experiences and organizing of people impacted by incarceration in California, as well as discuss paths forward to ensure that California addresses historical wrongs and achieves a more inclusive democracy.

- Dora Rose, League of Women Voters of California, Deputy Director

- Taina Vargas, Initiate Justice Action, Executive Director
- Jay Hockley, Initiate Justice Action, Community Organizer
- Lee Gibson, Initiate Justice, Community Advocacy Manager

Expanding Democracy for Immigrant Voters
(Golden State)
Immigrant voting is as old as the formalization of the United States itself. Over the decades the right slowly dwindled, especially during periods of heightened xenophobia, and particularly in the earlier part of the 1900s, until a resurgence of municipalities restored these rights over the course of the last 30+ years, and with that came mounting opposition. In California, recent lawsuits have threatened the progress of several municipalities pursuing an expansion of the electorate in the state. On this panel we will hear about the history and context of immigrant voting nationally, most recent updates on the San Francisco and Oakland lawsuits, and efforts from statewide advocates to revive immigrant voting in one of the most diverse states in the country. We will also discuss language access issues that impact many immigrants, and a new roadmap developed by advocates to improve the voting experience for immigrant voters.

- Annette Wong, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Managing Director of Programs

- Annie Lee, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Managing Director of Policy
- Ron Hayduk, San Francisco State University, Professor of Political Science
- Carlos Perea, Harbor Institute for Immigrant and Economic Justice, Executive Director 

- Julia Gomez, ACLU of Southern California, Senior Staff Attorney

My Vote. My Health. ™: Addressing Individual and Community Health Through the Power of Civic Engagement
Often those most ill in our communities sit at the intersection of low levels of civic participation and lack of representation. In order to fix these conditions, we believe that vulnerable communities must have a voice in the democratic process and ensure representation that champions issues important to them. Every election presents an opportunity for communities to make their voices heard and to elect the leaders who will best represent the issues that matter most and most impact the communities we serve and live in. AltaMed’s My Vote. My Health. ™ program seeks to provide an integrated civic engagement blueprint for organizations to ensure underrepresented communities are heard at the ballot box and have policies in place to address social determinants of health. In 2022, the My Vote. My Health. ™ program successfully engaged half a million Latino voters in our service areas in addition to engaging patients, providers and staff. Our program has a demonstrated track record of increasing civic engagement participation through an innovative replicable approach with the inclusion of nontraditional partners. Poverty, systemic racism and economic disparities adversely impact the ability of the average American to vote. So, too, does ease of voting access. Mobilizing via civic engagement yields powerful outcomes.

- Lizette Escobedo, AltaMed Health Services, Associate Vice President of Civic Engagement and Advocacy

- Dr. Seciah Aquino, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Executive Director
- Lindsey Freitas, California Primary Care Association, Vice President of Civic Engagement and Community Affairs
- Ilan Shapiro, MD, AltaMed Health Services, Senior Vice-President and Chief Health Correspondent and Medical Affairs Officer
4:45 pM - 5:30 pM
Closing Keynote
Closing keynote from Cathy Darling Allen, Shasta County Clerk and Registrar of Voters (Regency Ballroom)
Cathy Darling Allen, the elected Shasta County Clerk and Registrar of Voters, will present information about the events in Shasta County this calendar year, specifically regarding early termination of the county’s voting system contract, the Board of Supervisor’s desire to explore hand counting of ballots, and the impact of AB 969 (Pellerin).
5:30 pm - 6:30 pM
Networking Reception
The Future of California Elections Conference has some limited funds available to support participation of advocates and organizers who may otherwise be unable to attend.  Scholarships will be awarded on a need based, first come/first served basis, and will be awarded until available funding is exhausted or October 11, 2023.  You will be notified within 2 weeks of submitting your application if your scholarship is funded and, if funded, will be provided the information you need to register with a scholarship.  Scholarship applications will open with registration. Please apply early!
Sponsorship & Grants
Sponsorship and grant funding for the Future of California Elections Conference demonstrates your commitment to an inclusive democracy in California. A democracy that is multiracial, LGBTQ+ inclusive, and where the full electorate is engaged in exercising their power to choose the leadership that will best represent their interests and thriving as our state and country navigate this rapidly changing political environment.  Your sponsorship supports bringing together diverse organizers, advocates, activists, elections officials, academics and many others working in the democracy ecosystem to build share leadership, generate and debate ideas, and develop strong and diverse coalitions to move our democracy forward. Please contact Kristy Oriol (koriol at lwvc dot org) to discuss sponsorship opportunities.
Thank you to our event sponsors.

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