The California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP)
at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change
Engage! 
CCEP Newsletter
March 9, 2017


Dear CCEP colleagues, partners and friends:

Welcome to the March edition of Engage! While our nation is  experiencing much political and social division, we are also witnessing  many Americans standing up for what they believe: attending rallies and  town halls, joining issue groups, and sharing their needs and perspectives with  public officials. Some of these individuals have never before made what they  consider to be a "political statement."  Just yesterday, women and men  from around country celebrated International Women's Day by  participating in the "A Day Without A Woman" protest.

Civic engagement, regardless of political affiliation, is crucial to  the continued strength of our democracy.  Americans reacting to and  challenging the actions of their public representatives and institutions  is at the core of who we are as a nation.  As you witness local stories  of engagement, please share them with us so that we can pass them  along to the readers of Engage!

In this month's edition, you will find upcoming events around the state, a summary of current legislative efforts to strengthen civic participation in California, information about a new proposal to expand voting rights to 17-year-olds in the Golden State, new reports on municipal democracy and disparities in political participation among Californians, a round-up of the latest national news related to civic engagement, and more.  
In partnership,  

Mindy Romero, Ph.D.
CCEP Director

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Upcoming Events
Cesar Chavez Youth Leadership Conference Saturday March 11th

The CCEP is co-sponsoring the 17th annual Cesar Chavez Youth Leadership Conference and Celebration on Saturday, March 11th from 8 am until 4 pm at the UC Davis ARC Pavilion.  

This is a free college and career motivational event for junior high, high school and community college students, as well as parents and community members.  Explore college choices, connect with community resources and learn from professional role models who can help you plan for your future career.  Free breakfast and lunch are available, with activities throughout the day in honor of Cesar Chavez.  Dr. Romero will be facilitating an educational workshop.  UC Davis student affairs division is also organizing a gathering in support of immigrant communities in conjunction with the conference, also at the ARC Pavilion.  This event will feature a resource fair from 2-3 pm and inspirational speakers and activities from 3-4 pm.  Members of communities in the region are invited to gather and reflect, while taking advantage of the resources available to support those affected by the recent executive order on immigration.

For a detailed agenda, location map and a printable conference flyer, CLICK HERE
Dr. Romero to Speak at State Senate Committee Hearing on Youth Civic Engagement 3/17 in Los Angeles

Dr. Romero will be speaking at the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee hearing titled "From Voices to Votes: Breaking Barriers to Civic Engagement for the Next Generation," at   Reseda High School in Los Angeles on Friday, March 17 beginning at 1 p.m.
  
Reseda High School is located at 18230 Kittridge St. in Reseda.  

CLICK HERE to watch a live stream of this event on Friday March 17th at 1 pm PST.   

Local Government Commission presents the 26th Annual Yosemite Policymakers Conference

CCEP Director Mindy Romero will be speaking at the 26th annual Yosemite Policymakers Conference.  Hosted by the Local Government Commission, this event is designed to assist California  policymakers in finding the tools and support they need to implement innovative solutions to address society's most pressing challenges.  This year's focus is on Sustaining our Progress and Protecting the American Dream.

To learn more and register, CLICK HERE.  
Cesar Chavez Legacy Dinner, March 22 in Woodland

The Yolo County Office of Education is hosting the Cesar Chavez Legacy Dinner on Wednesday, March 22nd from 6-8 PM at the Yolo County Office of Education Conference Center to celebrate Cesar Chavez Day.  Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher will be the keynote speaker.

Cesar Chavez Day, held on March 31st, became a federal commemorative holiday in the U.S. in 2014 by presidential proclamation.  California recognized Cesar Chavez Day as a statewide holiday in 2000.  This holiday  celebrates the birth and legacy of the civil rights and labor movement activist  Cesar Chavez .

The conference center is located at 1280 Santa Anita Court, Suite 120 in Woodland.  

To reserve your ticket, CLICK HERE
Past Events
 CCEP at the California Latino Caucus Foundation Annual Policy Conference 

Dr. Romero was a the keynote speaker at a Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation's Annual Policy Conference Gala dinner on February 28th at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa.   
 
The Latino Legislative Caucus serves as a forum for members from the State Senate and Assembly to identify key issues affecting Latinos and develops avenues to empower the Latino community throughout California.  Current membership includes five Senators and twenty-two Assembly Members.  Their focus is primarily on improving the quality of life for working families in California.  Their non-profit foundation promotes and supports Latino culture and heritage in California and educates the public about issues of importance to Latinos in California. 
California Civic Engagement News
California Lawmakers Aim to Strengthen Civic Participation 

Several pieces of legislation currently under consideration by state lawmakers aim to enhance civic engagement and participation among Californians.

Assembly Bill 14, an act to amend the Political Reform Act of 1974, was introduced in December of 2016 by Assemblymembers Jimmy Gomez and Marc Levine.  This pending legislation, known as the California DISCLOSE Act, is intended to assist voters in making informed choices by making political advertisements more transparent.  If passed, this amendment would require political ads in the state to clearly and transparently list the three largest funders.  The top financial backers of ballot initiatives would be listed in advertisements, rather than the (sometimes misleading) names of fundraising committees.  This pending legislation  has been referred to the Assembly's Committee on Elections and Redistricting. For more information, CLICK HERE
 
Another law introduced last month in California's assembly, Assembly Bill 674, proposes making statewide and national election days a paid holiday.  The goal of this legislation, introduced by Assemblymembers Evan Low and Chris Holden, is to reduce barriers to voting for people who have work or school obligations.  Low said that he hopes that the bill will help low-income communities participate in elections, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.   State law currently requires employers to allow their employees to take up to two hours off with pay to vote.  The election day holiday bill will be eligible to be heard in committee as of March 18th. 

California lawmakers are also considering legislation aimed at helping students become more media literate.  Assembly Bill 155, introduced by Jimmy Gomez, proposes incorporating skills to analyze online information into middle and high school courses, while Senate Bill 135, introduced by Bill Dodd, would add media literacy training to social sciences standards for grade school through high school if it is signed into law. 
 
The phenomenon of "fake news" - made-up articles on what may appear to be legitimate journalistic websites, often appealing to partisan sentiments and shared across social media platforms - became a controversial and important part of the 2016 presidential campaign.  A recent Stanford study found that students were often fooled by fake news sites. 
 Learn more about this pending legislation aimed at improving student media literacy in an  article from the Sacramento Bee .  

A related bill recently introduced by Assemblymember Marc Levine known as the "Pravda Act" or AB 838 would require the State Board of Education to consider developing curricula to educate California students about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential race. 
California Bill Proposes Allowing 17-year-olds to Vote

Assemblymember Evan Low introduced a constitutional amendment this week, ACA 10, that would lower the voting age in California from 18 to 17.   "Young people are our future," he said in a statement. "Lowering the voting age will help give them a voice in the democratic process and instill a lifelong habit of voting." 

California would be the first state to allow 17-year-olds to vote in all elections.  A similar bill introduced last year that proposed allowing 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in school board elections did not make it out of committee.  If ACA 10 is approved by two-thirds of the Legislature, it will be put to the voters on the 2018 ballot.
 
Read about the proposed legislation in this story from LA Weekly , which references CCEP research.
California Common Cause Releases 2016 Municipal Democracy Index

Common Cause California has released their 2016 Municipal Democracy Index

Based on extensive survey and research data, this report provides a comprehensive look at how municipal democracy is being practiced currently in California's 482 cities.  It examines municipal government structures, voting systems used, and local campaign finance reforms, as well as general observations on the state of municipal democracy in the Golden state and where it seems to be heading.
New Report on Political Participation in California

A report released last month by Advancement Project California suggests that Latino and Asian Americans have less of a voice in our states politics than whites, despite making up the majority of the population. 

The report, "Unequal Voices: Who Speaks for California? Part II," is based on a 2016 survey of 2,600 Californians and over 900 young adults (aged 18-34) designed to measure various forms of political participation. 

"Fully participating in our democracy requires more than just voting once or twice a year," said co-author and UC Berkeley professor Dr. Lisa Garcia Bedolla.  "It is also attending public meetings, supporting campaigns and participating in consumer activism. These racial gaps in political participation mean that not all Californians are being heard, and this report is an urgent call to change that."  Dr. Karthick Ramakrishnan, associate dean of UC Riverside's School of Public Policy, co-authored the report with Dr. Bedolla. 

For more details and to download the complete report, CLICK HERE.
National Civic Engagement News
Congressional Leaders Face Contentious Town Hall Meetings 

Attendees at a contentious Feb. 9 town hall meeting in Utah
This past month has been marked by a groundswell of civic engagement across the United States.  The late February congressional recess was marked by news of contentious and sometimes rowdy town hall meetings across the country.  Capitol hill phone lines have been flooded with calls from voters, and district town hall meetings are attracting much larger crowds than in previous years.  For instance, Rep. Leonard Lance had over 1,150 show up for a Wednesday night town hall in his New Jersey district, where typical events like this draw around 100 people.  In California, Rep. Tom McClintock (R) was escorted out of a raucous town hall meeting in Roseville on Feb. 4th where hundreds of people stood outside the capacity event. 

Much of the impetus for public concern is related to the Affordable Care Act.  Republican lawmakers have been hearing from constituents who are worried about losing health coverage if the ACA is repealed without being replaced.  

Some lawmakers are avoiding town hall meetings as they watch their colleagues being confronted by large crowds of sometimes unhappy constituents, according to an article in The Californian.  For instance, Senator Claire McCaskill recently declined to attend a town hall meeting in Kansas City, and planned to connect with her constituents via Facebook Live.  Rep. Tom MacArthur of New Jersey released a statement saying that he would be holding tele-town hall meetings, but not in person town halls, citing how other such meetings across the country have "...devolved into unproductive shouting matches." 
Justice Department Reverses Position on Texas Voter ID Law

A controversial voter identification law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011 and enacted in 2013 is the subject of an ongoing legal battle taking place in Texas Federal Court.  In a historic reversal which gives the first indication as to how the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions will act on the issue of voting rights, the Justice Department has withdrawn its claim that Texas lawmakers had acted with discriminatory intent in passing the law.

The law requires Texans to present certain types of identification, such as a driver's license, military ID, passport or weapons permit in order to vote.  University ID cards are not considered valid.  Several courts have found the law to be unconstitutional, and opponents say these restrictions target young and minority voters who are more likely to vote for Democrats.  A Texas federal court found that the law would prevent 608,470 registered citizens from voting. 

Voting rights advocates will be watching closely to see if the administration's reversal on the Texas case is a preview of further attempts to disenfranchise Americans, and civil rights groups will continue to contest the purpose of the law in federal courts without the backing of the federal government.   

Read more about this case in these articles from The Washington Post and The New York Times
States Continue to Introduce New Laws to Restrict Access to Voting

According to a recent report from the Brennan Center for Justice, Texas is not the only state where legislators are attempting to enact voting restrictions. 

Lawmakers in Arkansas, Georgia, North Dakota, and Virginia have moved forward with  restrictive voting  legislation in recent weeks. At least 23 more states are considering bills with similar purposes.  Several of these bills cite voter fraud as the reason the restrictions are needed, despite mounting evidence that neither non-citizen voting or people voting in multiple states has ever occurred on any significant scale.  

Learn more about developing  trends in this arena by reading the Brennan Center's Voting Laws Roundup
AmericaSpeaks re-launches Website at AmericaSpeaks.org

The AmericaSpeaks organization pushed the envelope of what can be achieved by engaging citizens in decision-making through deliberative democracy.  Over the course of nearly two decades and two hundred projects, AmericaSpeaks engaged more than 180,000 people in thoughtful and productive dialogue before closing its doors at the end of 2013. 

Now, over three years later, the AmericaSpeaks website is being revived at americaspeaks.org.  "I continue to receive many inquiries about the AmericaSpeaks model, and at this polarizing moment in our nation's history there has been a resurgence of interest in the approach we developed," said founder Carolyn Lukensmeyer, who is now the Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse.  This approach combined large-scale deliberation with technology and skilled facilitation to engage thousands of diverse citizens in impactful dialogues, on topics ranging from the federal deficit to municipal planning to rebuilding Manhattan after 9/11 and helping New Orleans recover after Hurricane Katrina. 

The newly launched AmericaSpeaks website aims to make this model available and accessible to a wide range of potential users, so that Americans don't have to fall prey to the disintegration of our civil sectors.  The site includes links to documents, videos and a book that describe the work of AmericaSpeaks.  There is also a link to the original, archived AmericaSpeaks website that has been unavailable for three years.  Planned future updates will add a guide to conducting community forums, and resources from individual public engagement projects led by AmericaSpeaks.  
Facebook Rolls Out New System to Identify Fake News

Facebook's new feature flags links to stories that have been deemed false by independent fact-checkers. 
Months after it was announced that Facebook would work to combat the spread of fake news by attempting to label suspicious stories on the platform, the social network has now begun rolling out a system to label stories that are "disputed."  

Working with fact-checking partners at Snopes, Factcheck.org, ABC News, and Politifact, Facebook has begun to tag articles with a red exclamation point in a white triangle if they have been identified as "disputed," along with a link to relevant fact-checking articles.  The label appears in the preview before someone posts an article, so they have the option to rethink sharing the disputed news source.  Read more in Business Insider.  
Employment
Sacramento Housing Alliance seeks Communications and Events Director

The Sacramento Housing Alliance is hiring a Communication and Events Director.  The position provides support in communications, event planning, advocacy, public education, membership recruitment and engagement.  For more information, CLICK HERE.
CCEP Outreach: In the Media
Latino Community Foundation Blog Cites New CCEP Data

A blog on Latino participation in the 2016 presidential election by Masha Chernyak of the Latino Community Foundation highlights new data from the California Civic Engagement Project.  Latino voter participation in California was higher than the last presidential election, but Latinos are still underrepresented at the polls.  Chernyak says the time is now to invest in Latino civic engagement and voter mobilization so that Latino communities can exercise their collective political power. 

CLICK HERE to read "Latinos and the 2016 Presidential Election" on the Latino Community Foundation Blog. 
Share Your Civic Engagement Story with the CCEP

UC Davis California Civic Engagement Project

CCEP Advisory Committee

Kim Alexander
President and Founder  
California Voter Foundation 

Matt A. Barreto
Professor, Dept. of Political Science
Professor, Dept. of Chicana/o Studies
University of California, Los Angeles


Jonathan Fox
Professor, 
School of International Service
American University  
 
Luis R. Fraga 
Arthur Foundation Endowed Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership
Professor of Political Science University of Notre Dame
Lisa Garcia Bedolla
Chancellor's Professor of Education and Political Science
University of California, Berkeley
Bruce Haynes
Associate Professor, Dept. of Sociology University of California, Davis
Jongho Lee
Professor
Dept. of Political Science
Western Illinois University  

Peter Levine 
Associate Dean for Research and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs,  Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University
Matt Mahan
Cofounder and CEO
Brigade


James Muldavin
Executive Director
California Center for Civic Participation and Youth Development
Karthick Ramakrishnan
Professor of Public Policy
University of California, Riverside
Ricardo Ramirez
Associate Professor, Dept. of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

J ason Reece
Assistant Professor of Land Use Planning and Law
The Ohio State University
Cruz Reynoso
Professor of Law Emeritus
University of California, Davis
Dan Schnur
Director
Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics
University of Southern California
 Shakari Byerly
 Partner and Lead Researcher
 EVITARUS

California Civic Engagement Project
UC Davis Center for Regional Change
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