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Four pictures depicting different areas of California. A person with arms stretched in front of a body of water; a cactus in the desert; a coastal cliffside; a farm with rows of green vegetables.

Announcing California on the Ballot

California Humanities is pleased to introduce a new initiative, California on the Ballot, which will take place between October 2020 and April 2021. We will be exploring the unique role that we play as a minority-majority state. The central inquiry of California on the Ballot is this: with California on the leading edge of demographic change, a trend for the rest of the US, how does this change impact political engagement? If there isn’t an impact, why not? What can others learn from California’s electoral politics?

We plan to implement a series of 6-7 public programs and activities to illuminate and analyze the past, present, and future of electoral engagement in California. The programs will be conducted virtually unless public health directives change in the next several months to make socially distanced in-person programs possible. Our target audiences are those who have engaged in the electoral process – either in California or further afield – as well as those who have not been able to participate, because of age, accessibility, geography, status, or other barriers.

This new initiative is funded by the “Why it Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation” initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Mellon Foundation has provided $1.96 million to support programming from 43 state and territorial humanities councils across the country to “engage the public in collaborative, accessible, and thought-provoking dialogues on the importance of electoral and civic participation.”

We are launching this initiative on October 28, 2020, with “CA on the Ballot: What’s the Deal with Direct Democracy?” a panel discussion about the history and context of California’s use of ballot initiatives. We will keep you posted on upcoming events and welcome your ideas.


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