03/20/2014 by Alexandra Bjerg

VIDEO: Secretary of State candidates on making California elections more transparent

Psst, if you haven’t yet heard, it’s Sunshine Week! No need to slather on the sunscreen. It’s time to celebrate government basking in the rays of the public’s right to know. 

Government derives legitimacy from the will of the people. That’s a fundamental principle of our democracy. Given that citizens most often express their will at the ballot box, ensuring free, fair, and accurate elections is vital to the health of our democracy.

Voter turnout often reflects the level of public confidence in the electoral process and political institutions. A quick check of California’s abysmal voter participation rate indicates low levels of trust.

The steady increase of money flowing into California elections has shaken voter confidence in the fairness of our electoral system. Voters feel their voice is being drowned out by record campaign spending causing elected officials to prioritize serving special interests over the public interest and undermining the principle of one person, one vote. As a result, many eligible voters opt out entirely.

Among Californians that actually make it out the polls, many aren’t sure their ballot is being counted.  According the to 2012 Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE), 67 percent of Americans who voted in person said they were “very confident” their ballot was cast and counted in the last presidential election and only 55 percent of absentee voters. Although problems are inevitable, the state must to do more to ensure every ballot cast is counted. 

It’s clear the state must invest in rebuilding voter confidence. But how, you ask? By improving electoral transparency. As campaign coffers swell with cash, voters need to know who’s spending money to influence California elections and legislators and feel confident that their ballot is being counted. A transparent and secure electoral process is essential to restoring the public’s trust and maintaining a healthy democracy.  

Want to know what low or no-cost measures the six candidates for California Secretary of State would take, right away, to improve electoral transparency? California Forward asked them. Watch the video to find out what they said. Hint: technology-driven transparency.

On May 6th the six candidates vying to become California’s chief election official will gather in San Diego for the second stop on the statewide California Secretary of State Candidate Forum tour. At the statewide Candidate Forum, co-sponsored by California Forward, the candidates will be asked to share their thoughts about everything from voting rights and technology to electoral reform and transparency.

Categories: Democracy, Elections, Transparency

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