Category Archives: Public Affairs

Securing the Vote

Democracy withstood the assaults of misinformation during the contentious 2020 American Presidential election but did not emerge unscathed. The Center for Security in Politics at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy explores what it means to have free and fair elections from three perspectives: the international comparative aspect, lessons from battleground states, and election security.

With more than 100 democracies currently in the world, there are potentially many examples of how we might improve our election process in the future. The first panel brings together a distinguished group of experts to focus on election security practices in Latin America, South Asia, and West Africa. What might the United States be able to learn from what’s being done in these regions?

The panelists include Katherine Casey, Associate Professor of Political Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business; Thomas Fujiwara, Associate Professor of Economics at Princeton University; Gianmarco León-Ciliottais, Associate Professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Aila M. Matanock, Associate Professor of Political Science at the UC Berkeley; and moderator Susan Hyde, Professor of Political Science at the UC Berkeley. These scholars focus on election security practices in Brazil, India, and Sierra Leone while also citing examples from other countries.

Then, get firsthand accounts from a cybersecurity expert and election officials from Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The panel of experts examined the 2020 election, current debates about voter suppression and what to expect in future electoral contests. States like Arizona and Michigan put in tremendous effort to educate voters and demonstrate the integrity of the process. They built robust election infrastructure, created resources to demystify the election process and invited people to participate in the process of keeping elections transparent.

The panelists include Jocelyn Benson, Michigan Secretary of State; Katie Hobbs, Arizona Secretary of State, Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Attorney General; Matthew Masterson, Former Senior Cybersecurity Advisor at CISA, Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; and moderator Janet Napolitano, Professor, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley.

The third panel features domestic experts in election security practices. They focus their discussion on how we can advance our own election security practices by using the knowledge we’ve gained from our experiences in 2020 as well as looking at best practices in other countries to improve our system overall.

The panelists are Wayne Williams, former Colorado Secretary of State; Kammi Foote, Clerk Recorder and Registrar of Voters for Inyo County; Jennifer Morrell, former Colorado local election official and Partner at The Elections Group; Philip Stark, UC Berkeley Professor Statistics; and moderator Henry Brady, Dean, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley.

Watch Free and Fair Elections: Lessons for the US from the Rest of the World.

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Reimagining Policing

Following the police murder of George Floyd, there have been calls to “Abolish, Defund, and Reform” the police. Elected officials around the country have called for 50% reductions in the police budgets that account for much of local government spending. At the same time, there is little agreement on the meaning of what could or should be defunded or what can be reformed; in many cases, the very language of this movement has impeded the necessary public debate about the appropriate role of police and policing in our society.

Dan Lindheim, professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy, asked the panelists to address the meaning of abolishment and defunding the police in relation to the disproportionate levels of crime and violence that affect low-income communities of color.

Philadelphia chief of police, Danielle Outlaw, cited a Philadelphia poll showing majority support for reform rather than abolishment or the reduction of department size.

Nikki Fortunato Bas, President of the Oakland City Council and co-chair of Oakland’s Reimagining Police Taskforce, discussed an effective public safety system that includes alternative responses to non-violent calls and linked the policing crisis to the federal government’s dismantling of the social safety net.

As a leading national expert on police bias and police reform, Jack Glaser, professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy, discussed the clear racial bias that lies within the policing system especially with “proactive policing.”

The views of experienced police, elected officials and faculty experts at UC Berkeley sheds light on these critical, and timely, issues.

Watch Reimagining Policing.

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China and Latin American Energy

The People’s Republic of China has become a major investor, lender and actor across the energy sector in Latin America and the Caribbean. Indeed, loans and investments from China have financed an impressive array of projects in infrastructure, energy and mining.

With more than $58 billion invested between 2000 and 2019, China has clearly staked a claim in Latin America’s energy sector. In 2020, Chinese M&A deals in Latin America and the Caribbean energy reached $7.7 billion, according to Bloomberg, or 25% of Chinese acquisitions worldwide.

With the contours of the global energy transition and increased attention on reducing emissions and climate action spurring huge growth in renewable energy, China has flexed its muscles in that segment of the global energy sector and in Latin America and the Caribbean. China’s growing presence in Latin America presents challenges to the United States, which the new Biden administration must address. A new administration together with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress provides an opportune moment to reset. Indeed, the new administration has an opportunity to counter China and strengthen US-Latin America relations by encouraging private investment, particularly in mining, clean energy and infrastructure projects.

Cecilia Aguillon, Energy Transition Initiative Director and Jeremy Martin, Vice President, Energy & Sustainability at the Institute of the Americas present an overview of the latest Energy & Sustainability program’s report followed by a discussion panel with Matt Ferchen, Head of Global China Research at Mercator Institute for China Studies and Michael Davidson, Assistant Professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UCSD.

Watch China Stakes its Claim in Latin American Energy: What it Means for the Region, the US and Beijing.

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Homeland Security in the Post-Trump Era

The Biden-Harris administration faces an evolving mix of foreign and domestic threats. Repairing the damage done to domestic security agencies and returning public confidence is at the core of this conversation among four former leaders of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, served as Secretaries of the Department under President George W. Bush. Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson served during the Obama administration. The discussion is moderated by former Assistant Secretary of Defense Douglas B. Wilson.

The panel explores topics from Russian interference in the 2016 election to the racism of the white nationalist groups that were prominent in the January 6 attack on the capitol, and the role of social media in both. They note that the department was created in 2002 based on the assumption that terrorism came from beyond our borders but the principal threat is now increasingly domestic-based.

Challenges abound for the new Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The panel agrees his job includes rebuilding trust in the department, a trust that was eroded by former Present Trump who systematically undermined the department, using it for political gain rather than public safety.

Fortunately, they have faith in the national security officials’ ability to meet the current challenges.

Watch Homeland Security in a Post-Trump Era: Bipartisan Insights for the Coming Years.

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Criminal Justice Reform in California

For decades California’s incarceration rate mirrored that of the nation, increasing five-fold between the early 1970s and the mid-2000s. Since 2010 California has slowly turned away from mass incarceration through a series of criminal justice reforms, including changing criminal sentencing and law enforcement practices to reduce prison populations.

What has California done right in this transformation, and where has it fallen short? What would a truly just criminal justice system look like? UC Berkeley’s Steven Raphael looks at the last decade of prison reform including reducing overcrowding, the impacts of proposition 47 and the effects of racial disproportionality in criminal justice involvement.

Raphael is a Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and holds the James D. Marver Chair at the Goldman School of Public Policy. His research focuses on the economics of low-wage labor markets, housing, and the economics of crime and corrections. His most recent research focuses on the social consequences of the large increases in U.S. incarceration rates and racial disparities in criminal justice outcomes. Raphael also works on immigration policy, research questions pertaining to various aspects of racial inequality, the economics of labor unions, social insurance policies, homelessness, and low-income housing.

Watch Criminal Justice Reform in California.

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