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How Do We Put the People Back in the Initiative Process?

A Zócalo/New America Foundation Connecting California Event in partnership with the Bill Lane Center for the American West
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In the fall of 1911, the new governor, a lawyer from San Francisco, convinced California voters to add the recall, referendum, and initiative to the constitution as a way to stop the political machines. These days, the initiative process is itself a machine, accessible mainly by interests and people with big money. After a century, can California's experiment with direct democracy be saved? And if so, how? At this event, a panel of experts from California and around the world explained how new technology and new research suggest a variety of ways that democracy might be returned to the people.

A full write-up is available on the Zocalo Public Square website.


  • Kim Alexander
    California Voter Foundation
  • Bruno Kaufmann
    President, Initiative & Referendum Institute Europe
  • Paul Jacob
    President, Citizens in Charge Foundation
  • James H. Fowler
    Medical geneticist and political scientist, University of California San Diego
  • Joe Mathews
    Senior Fellow, New America Foundation

Event Time and Location

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Fort Mason, Building A, Golden Gate Room
Marina Blvd and Buchanan St.
San Francisco, CA 94123