The California Public Policy Foundation (CPPF) was founded in 1989 by John F. Kurzweil, Sr. He received a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. Founded in 1908 the UM Journalism school is consistently ranked as one of the top 5 journalism schools in the country.
Intensely interested in strategic communications, John served as public relations director for the Getty Oil Company, VIRCO Manufacturing, the California Republican Party and as a press consultant for the Republican National Convention in 1988.
In 1985 he founded The Supreme Court Project as a non-partisan organization “dedicated to publishing research relevant to California’s 1986 judicial elections”. The project continued through 1988 when three new justices were elected to the California Supreme Court.
Encouraged by the response to the Supreme Court Project John founded CPPF in late 1989, dedicated to “a vigorous presentation and debate of ideas”, which would usually be presented from a conservative viewpoint but would always welcome and encourage thoughtful presentation of different viewpoints.
The first copy of CPPF’s flagship publication, the California Political Review magazine, appeared in January of 1990 and was published monthly until John’s death in November, 2010. At that time John’s friends and colleagues decided to bring to fruition a dream of John’s and established the CPPR website, which became the current Capoliticalreview.com.
A devoted fan of William F. Buckley, Jr., John like Buckley was a man of ideas who believed that robust but respectful debate was vital to the continued success not only of his conservative ideas but also of all ideas, and that such debate would work in the best interests of the country.
Most of the current CPPF Directors knew John, miss him and honor his memory by continuing his vision with the CPPF website and special projects.
Among those special projects is encouraging local jurisdictions to comply with the provisions of the California Voting Rights Act, which requires that election districts not discriminate against minorities. We are currently working with the Palo Alto Unified School District and they have indicated they will work with us to fix their election system to address imbalances.
We are in contact with other local jurisdictions, largely in the Bay Area, to help them comply with the law. Maximizing voter participation and insuring equal impact for each vote is, to us, the flip side of the election integrity coin of ensuring accurate and law-compliant voter registration and voter roll maintenance.
Other potential projects along this line include ballot access, ballot statement and ballot designation help to potential candidates who can easily get lost in the thicket of sometimes contradictory regulations.
CPPF firmly believes that an involved electorate produces the best election results – no matter which particular candidate or party wins.
Voting Rights Act in the United States and California
The right to vote is a fundamental constitutional right and the most basic form of political expression.
Although guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the right to vote has not always been fairly administeredthroughout the United States – with racial minority groups denied equal protection under the law.
In 1965, over the strong objections of Southern Democrats, Congress passed the federal Voting Rights Act to outlaw discriminatory voting practices. The landmark legislation prohibited states from engaging in literacy tests and provided for a system of federal oversight to ensure that jurisdictions did not violate the constitutional rights of its citizens.
“The Voting Rights Act,” notes a former Senior Trial Attorneywith the United States Department of Justice and Adjunct Professor at Arizona State University, “is one of the most successful civil rights laws ever enacted. It has made the dream of political participation a reality for millions of minorities in the United States.”
The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, received strong bipartisan support in Congress. Republican lawmakers supported the measure in greater numbers than Democrats. As PolitiFact confirms, 82 percent of Republicans in the House of Representatives supported the measure, compared to just 78 percent of Democrats. In the United States Senate, the vote was decided with “73 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Republicans supporting the bill.”
In addition to securing the franchise for millions of Americans, the Voting Rights Act opened the door to minority candidates for public office.
“Once the Voting Rights Act became the law, it changed the political demographics all across the South,” Rev. Wyatt T. Walker, a former pastor told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. ”You had black people running for office; it was the freshest breath of air in the struggle.”
In California, the federal Voting Rights Act has been further secured with the passage of the California Voting Rights Act. Enacted in 2002, the law recognizes that discriminatory voting systems can be used to dilute the political representation of minority groups in California.
The California Voting Rights Act focuses on the use of at-large elections, in which members of a governing board are decided from all voters within the jurisdiction’s area.
Section 14027 of the California Voting Rights Act states: “An at-large method of election may not be imposed or applied in a manner that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election, as a result of the dilution or the abridgment of the rights of voters who are members of a protected class, as defined pursuant to Section 14026.”
The California Voting Rights Act establishes a stronger requirement and greater level of protection than federal law. “The CVRA invalidates not only at-large elections that prevent minority voters from electing their chosen candidates, but also those that impair the ability of minority voters to influence elections,” contend voting rights experts.
The California Voting Rights Act establishes a preference for by-district elections, in which candidates for the elected office reside within an electoral district or sub-division of the government entity. By-district elections are decided by only the voters residing within that specific electoral district or political sub-division
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The California Public Policy Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization so contributions are tax deductible. CPPF gladly provides a timely written acknowledgment of your gift. Please see your tax professional for more information. If you would like to make a contribution to our activities and efforts to promote voting rights in California, we thank you in advance!
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