As of February 20, 16,065,956 ballots have been mailed, 1,404,192 (9%) have been returned and, by party, 8% of Democrat, 6% of Independent and 14% of Republican ballots have been returned (link to a daily primary election tracker).
While California voters have been trending away from major parties and registering as No Party Preference, recent registration shows that trend reversing between October 2019 and January 2020, with NPPs down by 140,000 and Democrats and Republican up by a combined 200,000. This is likely due to the restrictions on who can vote in party primaries: Democrats require NPPs to take an extra step to request their ballot, while Republicans do not allow NPPs to vote on theirs at all. The new trend could continue, as Governor Newsom signed legislation sponsored by Senator Melissa Hurtado that allows voters to re-register and vote with their party of preference on election day.
Studies show that young people are motivated by climate change to vote, accounting for a large growth from 2014 to 2018 midterms.
Criminal Justice Reform
CDT-endorsed District Attorneys Diana Becton and Chesa Boudin joined other California prosecutors in signing a letter condemning U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s attacking of progressive prosecutors: “We will not go back to the fear-driven “tough on crime” era. We will not adhere to policies that failed to make our communities safe and punished poverty, mental illness or addiction—policies that filled prison beds and made our country an international outlier in our rate of incarceration. We will not cater to the powerful and wealthy while plundering the poor and communities of color. We will continue to implement solutions that are proven, focus our resources on solving serious crimes, and work to reduce our nation’s bloated incarceration system. We will uphold the rule of law, and we will apply it fairly.”
The Los Angeles County Supervisors voted to eliminate county-imposed criminal justice fees and forgive related debt and support Senator Holly Mitchell’s effort to do so at the state level with SB 144.
Prompted by journalists’ findings of inhumane conditions in California county jails, the state Board of State and Community Corrections are proposing changes that would address failures of the jails. CDT-endorsed Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove is also calling for an audit of sheriff’s offices in Fresno, Los Angeles and Alameda of their use of state money.
The federal administration is suing California on its legislation barring for-profit prisons. The Desert Sun looks inside a private prison company, Florida-based GEO Group, operating immigration detention centers in the Central Valley and Inland Empire, revealing how the company has managed to expand in the state by circumventing state laws.
To underscore the tension between the federal and state governments, the federal administration deployed tactical Border Patrol units to cities — including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland — during the president’s recent visit to California.
Central Valley and Inland Empire
With an earlier California primary election, Democratic presidential candidates and the media are paying more attention to the growing power of the Central Valley and Inland Empire. CDT partner Michael Gomez Daly of Inland Empire United is quoted throughout the second article, including noting how “the infusion of attention was a ‘dream for the local political infrastructure.’”
The California Air Resources Board adopts the first air pollution measures targeting local emissions in Central Valley. “Local committees of environmental advocates and residents spent months drafting the plans, which are the first to be approved in the San Joaquin Valley. Similar plans have been approved in other parts of the state. The plans are seen as major steps for heavily polluted communities as California seeks to curb pollution effects at the local level.”
California will officially apologize for the government’s historical mistreatment of Japanese Americans, including barring Japanese immigrants from owning land and forcing them to forfeit their U.S. citizenship if they remained citizens of Japan.
The USC Price School’s California Civic Engagement Project — led by CDT ally Mindy Romero — released new election facts sheets providing a historical overview of voter turnout in California’s primary elections, while also projecting the size of the Latino, Asian-American and youth votes in the 2020 primary.
The Project is also part of a collaboration releasing a new statewide issues poll on Friday, February 20. The poll “takes a deep dive into how Californians feel on key policy issues and potential solutions, including political reform, the Voter’s Choice Act, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission process, homelessness, legalized sports gambling, among other issues. The poll also includes select data on voting intentions and job approval ratings on state and regional leaders.” (Link to the Project’s publication page, which does not yet have the poll).
The USC Dornsife Program for Environmental and Regional Equity published a study on how much reform of Prop 13 via Schools and Communities First would benefit each region of California. “That analysis suggests a shift to market value assessment on the commercial and industrial side could yield 10.3 to 12.6 billion dollars statewide in additional property tax revenue.” With “an estimated 78% of the revenue coming from only 6% of commercial and industrial properties.”