Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

RBVoters2.JPGCalifornia's election and voting systems have been criticized as creaky and outdated, resulting in civic disengagement and low voter turnout — even by the candidates seeking the state's top elections post.

The Senate Select Committee on Science, Innovation and Public Policy will hold a hearing at 9 a.m. in Room 2040 of the Capitol to explore technological solutions for modernizing voter registration, improving access to election information and boosting voter participation. Among those scheduled to testify are California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

The hearing was called by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, who is in the midst of his own campaign for secretary of state. The office is one of the most competitive statewide races this year, with three Democrats, a Republican, an independent and a Green Party candidate running. At the California Democratic Party's annual convention this past weekend, no candidate won the official primary endorsement.

VIDEO: Anti-fracking activists scored political points for Gov. Jerry Brown at the California Democratic Party convention, Dan Walters says.

SWEET RIDE Have you ever wanted to see a legislator ride an electric skateboard? Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, will show off her skills in support of a new bill that would make the boards street legal, 11:30 a.m. at Gallegos Square on 11th Street.

FALLING BEHIND: California's food stamp program has the lowest participation rate of any state in the country among eligible residents. The Senate and Assembly human services committees hold a joint hearing at 1:30 p.m. in Room 437 of the Capitol to examine barriers to participation and efforts to increase the reach of the program.

LOOK MA, NO HANDS: When self-driving cars eventually make it onto the roads, should blind people be allowed to operate them? What about children? The California Department of Motor Vehicles has been working through those questions as it develops regulations for autonomous vehicles. Another public workshop to discuss requirements and safety standards will be held at 10 a.m. at the DMV headquarters on 1st Avenue.

INTERIOR INTEREST: As California's water woes continue to draw national attention, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will tour the C.W. "Bill" Jones Pumping Plant in Byron today to check out the waterworks and discuss the federal response to the drought. She'll continue on to Point Arena on Wednesday to celebrate the White House's recent designation of the coastal nature preserve as a national monument.

PHOTO: Voters cast their ballots on Nov. 6, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton


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