California Report Card featured in “The Promise of Berkeley” Magazine

Using Technology to Gather Voter Voices

Excerpt from The Promise of Berkeley Magazine | “Cal on the ballot: Berkeley efforts to amend the election process” (pp. 10)  | Spring 2016

The California Report Card
Visit to grade timely issues, or to check your earthquake readiness.

Can technology increase public engagement by tapping the collective intelligence of voters? Yes, according to the California Report Card (CRC), a mobile-friendly tool created in 2014 as an alternative to opinion surveys and social media channels often dominated by partisans. The CRC invites California voters to grade issues facing the state, as well as suggest emerging issues. Since its launch, more than 22,000 people in all 58 counties have assigned grades to what they think is important. Developed by Berkeley’s Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the office of Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, the CRC uses the latest IT and mobile technology to connect constituents with state leaders and build new bridges between Spanishand English-speaking communities. Notably, the CRC rapidly translates between English and Spanish and seeks to reach the 30 percent of residents who speak Spanish at home. “If you don’t have active citizen engagement, you’re not a highly functioning or a real democracy,” says Lt. Gov. Newsom in a CRC video. “A democracy is only as good as its active participants, and it’s something I think technology can substantially aid us in once again rediscovering.” When the first report card revealed statewide concern on disaster preparedness, CITRIS responded with QuakeCAFE, a new platform that allows people to assess their own preparedness. It also enables you to rate ideas on how the state can help people get ready for a major earthquake through education, incentives, inspections, and other areas.

Read the full article, “Cal on the ballot: Berkeley efforts to amend the election process”.

Image credit: The Promise of Berkeley, Spring 2016 (PDF)