California on the Ballot is made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of their A More Perfect Union initiative and was launched with funding from 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.
About California on the Ballot
In the political experiment that is the American republic, California may be the most visible laboratory. What does the electoral history of a state often considered to be the seat of the nation’s social, technological, and cultural innovation have to tell us about the future of American democracy, and its complex past?
Our state’s variety of cultures, languages, and opinions yields a nearly infinite variety of possibilities for civic engagement. From writing poetry to running for office, from voter drives to direct actions, residents of the Golden State constantly seek new opportunities to forge a more just society—and will continue to do so as our electorate continues to diversify in the future. “The ‘California Dream’ is capacious,” Dr. William Deverell observed during recent event California Dreamin’. “It can absorb hopes and wishes beyond the conventional Gold Rush dreaming that we tend to caricature. [It] can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.”
Through California on the Ballot, a statewide initiative, we invite the people of California and beyond to reflect and talk about the past, present, and future of electoral engagement in California. Scholars, artists, journalists, civil servants, and archivists offer their perspectives through Zoom panel discussions, interviews, displays of historical artifacts, film clips, and Q&A sessions with viewers.
In this free series of virtual events, we reflect on what civic engagement currently looks like in California, and what changes might soon be in store. Each discussion revolves around a key question. Read about past programs below.