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Voter Participation

The Little Hoover Commission is reviewing voter participation in California.  According to the California Secretary of State, more Californians – some 19 million – registered to vote in the November 2016 presidential election than ever before.  And more of California’s registered voters – approximately 14. 6 million – exercised their right to cast a vote.  Despite the historic high registration and turnout for the 2016 presidential election, 25 percent of registered voters and nearly half of California’s 24. 8 million eligible voters did not participate in the election. In recent years, California lawmakers have consistently passed reforms intended to increase voter registration opportunities, improve access to the electoral process, and ensure that vote-by-mail ballots are counted, among others.  Some notable reforms include pre-registration for 16-year-olds, conditional same day voter registration at certain locations, a new Motor Voter program to automate voter registration for individuals when obtaining or renewing identification cards or driver licenses with the DMV and a new option for counties to conduct all-mailed ballot elections and use vote centers and ballot drop-off locations prior to election day rather than operate polling places only on election day. With this study, the Little Hoover Commission will review the landscape of voter participation in California to better understand who is participating in California’s elections, who is not and some of the reasons individuals who are eligible to vote do not register or turn out to cast a ballot.  The Commission also will review the status of recently enacted reforms aimed at easing the voter registration process and consider what else can be done to ensure that new programs intended to make it easier for eligible Californians to vote get implemented effectively.  Through its public process, the Commission also intends to study best practices in other nations, states and localities to explore and consider opportunities to further increase voter registration and turnout rates in California. If you would like more information regarding this study, please contact Tamar Lazarus at tamar. lazarus@lhc. ca. gov or at 916-445-2125. To be notified electronically of meetings, events, or when the review is complete, please send a request to littlehoover@lhc. ca. gov.  
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Artificial Intelligence: Applications and Implications

The Little Hoover Commission is reviewing the impacts of artificial intelligence. While there is no singular definition, artificial intelligence encompasses a broad range of technologies that seek to approximate some aspect of human intelligence or behavior.  In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, the vast majority of the 1,896 experts anticipated that robotics and artificial intelligence will “permeate wide segments of daily life by 2025. ” The Commission’s artificial intelligence project will investigate the shape and speed of these changes in California and in society. Through its public process, the Commission intends to study the key challenges of artificial intelligence in California, its economic implications and how it can be used to solve societal ills. The Commission will review issues such as justice, equity, safety and privacy. The project will consider recent studies on workforce impacts, which could include both job creation and job displacement. Possible mitigations and worker protections will be discussed as will examples of efforts to plan and prepare for innovations and labor transformations.   In addition, the Commission will review how artificial intelligence can be used as a key tool to address social problems such as HIV prevention. Throughout its study, the Commission will consider the potential policy role of California state government in areas such as regulation, workforce development and retraining. If you would like more information regarding this study, please contact the Little Hoover Commission at littlehoover@lhc. ca. gov or at 916-445-2125. To be notified electronically of meetings, events or when the review is complete, please send a request to littlehoover@lhc. ca. gov.
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Voting Equipment Security

The Little Hoover Commission is reviewing voting equipment security in California. During the course of its voter participation study, the Commission determined it wanted to learn more about how the state ensures that all Californians’ votes count, particularly in light of Department of Homeland Security reports that foreign operatives in 2016 had scanned the state’s data networks. In early 2018, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla pointed to aging voting systems as one of the gravest threats to election integrity.   Governor Brown has proposed in the 2018-2019 budget $134. 3 million to provide counties with about half of the funding they will need to pay for replacement of their voting equipment.   In addition, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 provides California with up to $34 million in Help America Vote Act Election Security Funds to update equipment and make security improvements.  In this study, the Little Hoover Commission will review voting equipment security in California to better understand the strengths and vulnerabilities of the current systems, the policies, processes and procedures around their use and plans to use available funding to update this equipment.   Additionally, the Commission will hear from security and elections experts about the implementation of best practices in California and opportunities to further improve voting equipment security. If you would like more information regarding this study, please contact Krystal Beckham at krystal. beckham@lhc. ca. gov or at 916-445-2125.  To be notified electronically of meetings, events, or when the review is complete, please send a request to littlehoover@lhc. ca. gov.  
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1991 Realignment: State Programs and Funding Shift to Counties

The Little Hoover Commission is reviewing realigned responsibilities among state and local government programs. Beginning in 1991, lawmakers significantly altered the state-county relationship by transferring responsibilities for certain mental health, public health, indigent health and local block grant programs from the state to the counties. In return, counties received funding for these “realigned” programs through a half cent sales tax and a dedicated portion of revenue from vehicle license fees, with allocation formulas established in statute. Over the last 25 years, lawmakers have modified the rules and statutes guiding distribution of these funds and shifted additional responsibilities and revenues to local governments for various criminal justice, mental health, and social services programs. Significant reforms to this intricate funding scheme were enacted in 2013 ahead of the January 2014 implementation of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and expanded health insurance coverage through Medi-Cal for low income adults. Based on the expectation that counties would realize health expenditure savings as a result of these changes, lawmakers further modified distributions of realigned funds to offset state support for social service programs. Since the recent changes were enacted, there have been questions about the efficiency and effectiveness of the funding mechanisms for the realigned programs. The rules and statutes guiding distribution of funding for these realigned programs appear overly complex and unwieldy. In this study, the Little Hoover Commission will review the statutory scheme and the funding mechanisms for these realigned programs. If you would like more information regarding this study, please contact Tamar Lazarus at tamar. lazarus@lhc. ca. gov or at 916-445-2125. To be notified electronically of meetings, events, or when the review is complete, please send a request to littlehoover@lhc. ca. gov.
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