Alexandra Bjerg

Staff Reporter

Alexandra Bjerg has a unique Danish and Colombian heritage and a love for the game of soccer (or "football" as her countrymen refer to it). She is an avid writer for California Forward and is passionate in particular about increasing civic engagement and political representation among groups historically under-represented. She also covers education, election reforms, and matters related to open government and how the use of technology can foster greater transparency at both the state and local levels.

Alexandra is fluent in Spanish and holds bachelor's degrees in politics and international relations from the University of San Francisco.

Articles

VIDEO: California Chief Justice leads charge to close civic knowledge gap

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye created partnership with California schools to boost student proficiency in civic to encourage more participation in democracy. Read More

California bill would require open data to be easily retrievable and searchable

Law would mean agencies could not forward hard-to-analyze and unsearchable PDF's or spreadsheet printouts of public records when the data has been defined as "open."  Read More

New digital transparency tool cracks open lawmaking for Californians

Free, online platform gives Californians "Google-like" search tool to view government hearings  Read More

Transparency gets win as funds OK’d to digitize financial disclosure by public officials

Legislatures approved funds to bring California's paper-based system for public officials to declare economic interests into the digital age. Read More

Open data bill would require cities to create data inventories

Local governments would need to catalog their data management systems and make the information publicly available under bill by State Senator Bob Hertzberg. Read More

VIDEO: How to boost youth voting? Change voting age says lawmaker

Lawmaker proposes lowering state primary voting age to engage young voters earlier in the electoral process and encourage lifelong voting Read More

VIDEO: How to build a civic tech and open data ecosystem with L.A.‘s data chief

City of Los Angeles' Abhi Nemani talks about how the SoCal open data community is evolving Read More

Los Angeles called an election—but no one showed up

“You’re the first person without gray hair to come in and vote today.” Read More

VIDEO: How tech startups can improve government-citizen relationship

One thriving startup founder talks about how civic data can be an economic opportunity and a way to get citizens more engaged with government Read More

VIDEO: California elections chief Alex Padilla lays out reform priorities

Voting rights, finished registration database and helping businesses top the California Secretary of State's list of needed reforms this year.  Read More

VIDEO: How to get startup thinking into government

Open Data advocates know government can't always run like a business but could learn how to be more agile when solving problems. Read More

California Chief Justice to speak at state elections conference

"Working Together For A More Inclusive Democracy" is the theme of the Future of California Elections 2015 Conference. Read More

VIDEO: City of L.A.‘s data chief explores taking open data to next level

Abhi Nemani on how governments can create value from open data and go beyond transparency Read More

New study finds dismal 2014 youth voter turnout may continue unabated

When less than 10 percent of eligible young Californians make their voice heard through the ballot box, the future of our state is refusing to have a say in our state’s future. Action needs to be taken. Read More

CA Fwd’s letter to the Federal Election Commission

CA Fwd is asking the FEC to embrace and improve electronic disclosure of campaign finance information so that it's more difficult for large political donors to exert more influence on policy decisions than the average citizen Read More

Year in Review: Democracy and Elections

Despite record low turnout, Bruister explains progress that’s been made this year in regard to California’s elections and improving voter information, Read More

Year in Review: Open Data and Transparency

Leading the charge for CA Fwd in this area is Robb Korinke, who answered a few questions about the strides taken in 2014 and why next year holds the promise of being the best yet. Read More

Data Summit: Appallicious founder on importance of open data

As tech experts gather to kick off the first regional open data event on Wednesday in Long Beach, we hear from last year's attendee Yo Yoshida on why he founded his company and why open data as a movement is important Read More

New research shows CA youth more likely to have their vote-by-mail ballots rejected

New research reveals demographic disparities in California’s unsuccessful vote-by-mail ballots, finding youth are more likely to have their vote-by-mail ballots rejected than older voters. Read More

Your final vote by mail cheatsheet!

A record-breaking 69 percent of voters in the June 2014 primary cast their ballots by mail. And more than one million vote-by-mail ballots have already been cast for the November general election. Read More

Public database of county by county elections costs in the works for California

A slew of election reforms are proposed each year. When reviewing a measure, one of the first things legislators want to know is: What’s the cost? Read More

Today is final day to register to vote in November election

While online voter registration has boosted the number of 18-24 year olds added to the voter registration rolls, young people remain underrepresented as a proportion of the state’s overall electorate Read More

VIDEO: Long Beach city councilman asks residents how they would spend $250,000

Less than three months into his first term, Long Beach City Councilmember Rex Richardson is already proving he’s not afraid to shake up City Hall. Read More

New survey highlights role colleges can play in informing and registering young voters

Did your university ever send you a reminder to register to vote? Well according to a survey of more than 1,000 California students conducted by the CALPRIG Education Fund, they should have Read More

Poll: What should be the top priority for next CA Secretary of State?

Although not yet elected, a lengthy to-do list already awaits the next California Secretary of State on his first day in office. Which issue do you think he should tackle first? Read More

Q&A: Assemblymember Scott Wilk on redistricting, Capitol culture

Q&A with Assemblymember Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) is another first term member of the California Legislature who took the time to answer some of our questions Read More

Q&A: Assemblymember Kevin Mullin on reform, future of CA politics

Assm. Mullin (D-San Mateo) talks about culture in the Capitol as one of the newer members of the State Legislature Read More

Video Reader Poll: How SB29 would dramatically reduce vote-by-mail rejections

More than 65,000 VBM ballots in California went uncounted in 2012, according to Pew Charitable Trusts estimates Read More

Reader Poll: Would turning elections into a lottery boost voter turnout?

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission voted on Thursday to recommend the City Council explore the possibility of offering cash prizes to lure voters to the ballot box Read More

Reader Poll: Your thoughts on tax incentives as economic drivers?

State and local governments often use tax incentives like those mentioned above to attract or retain existing businesses and create jobs. But is it the best strategy for growth? Read More

Reader Poll: Brother, can you spare a dime for water infrastructure?

Are you willing to pay more for your water bill each month if the revenue generated from the rate increase was dedicated to improving the old worn out water system? Read More

Reader Poll: Spend or save surplus funds?

During good economic times, state revenues grow. How should California use a state budget surplus? Read More

Where does California’s reboot of outdated disclosure systems stand?

There's a big opportunity for tech to increase transparency, boost efficiency and help restore public trust. Read More

Survey Says: Californians concerned by low voter turnout, unsure of solution

Two weeks ago California held a statewide primary election. Didn’t know? Initial vote tallies indicate you’re far from alone. Read More

The Primary Club: Thoughts on California’s startlingly low June voter turnout

Pundits, data-miners, reporters…everyone wants to know why statewide turnout on Tuesday was less than the number of registered voters in Los Angeles County alone Read More

Top Two Primary invites independent voters to the party, too

Independent voters have long been the Plain Jane of the high school that is American politics, but now they're invited to the party...without having a party Read More

VIDEO: Creating a more diverse California electorate

Lisa García Bedolla has some engaging thoughts on how to diversity the strangely uniform California voting population Read More

Registration for the June 3rd primary closes today

Here's everything you need to know to get registered last minute so you can participate in the upcoming June 3rd California primary. Read More

VIDEO: CACEO to create new election cost database

Democracy isn’t free. Elections cost money and California holds a lot of them. How much exactly? Well you can’t put an accurate price tag on elections. Well, not yet, anyway. But that’s about change. Read More

Voter’s Edge arms Californians with abundance of information

Casting an informed ballot requires hitting the books before hitting the booth. If you don’t do your homework, voting can feel like taking exam you didn’t study for. Voter's Edge looks to change that. Read More

VIDEO: Taking California’s Online Voter Registration to the next level

The June 3rd primary election is just six weeks away, yet millions of Californians will be unable to cast a ballot because they’re not yet registered to vote. Read More

VIDEO: Pew says California ranks near the bottom in election performance

While California was given credit for slashing polling place wait times in half, it was dinged for being one of only two states that don’t provide voters with web-based statewide voting and election information lookup tools Read More

VIDEO: Opening up California’s data with MapLight’s Jay Costa

CA Fwd talked to California's homegrown technological transparency sleuths to ask about the state of transparency in the Golden State. Read More

VIDEO: Secretary of State candidates on making California elections more transparent

Want to know what low or no-cost measures the six candidates for California Secretary of State would take, right away, to improve electoral transparency? California Forward asked them.  Read More

California Legislators regulating themselves with new transparency bills

Last week a series of bills meant to foster greater public trust in government by, among other things, banning gifts from lobbyists, were announced in the California Legislature. Read More

Future of California Elections depends on us

Hoping to reverse the trend of declining turnout, policymakers, researchers, election officials and advocates gathered to discuss the challenges and advances in the field of elections as well as explore new opportunities to improve participation and election administration in California. Read More

VIDEO: California Secretary of State candidates’ ideas on improving voter participation

California Forward’s got you covered; we asked each candidate to name two things you promise do to increase voter participation in California. Watch the video to find out what they said. Read More

What can be done to conquer California’s voter apathy?

The state is suffering from another, lesser known drought of active voters, brought about by a two-decade decline in voter participation Read More

California makes it easier than ever to vote, but will it work?

In a report released Thursday, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) examines whether or to what extent recent efforts to broaden the electorate will translate into gains in voter participation. Read More

VIDEO: LA City Council President addresses Angeleno voter apathy

The City of Los Angeles has tasked a citizen’s panel to solve the great mystery of disappearing voters. We spoke to President Herb Wesson about the commission designed to get them back. Read More

Covered California failing to comply with National Voter Registration Act

Under the federal law, more commonly known as the “Motor Voter” act, government agencies providing public assistance are required to offer individuals opportunities to register to vote. That means all Californians applying for health coverage through the state exchange should simultaneously be offered the opportunity to register to vote.  Read More

Deja Vu: Yet another Special Election Tuesday comes and goes in California

Because of legislative musical chairs, whopping 14 special elections will have been held in California by year's end Read More

The state of municipal campaign finance in California

The League of Women Voters of Los Angeles hosted a discussion on the state of campaign finance in California Wednesday, aptly scheduled on what would have been U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis’s 157th birthday. Read More

Another California off-year election has dismal turnout

Of the nearly 1.75 million LA County voters eligible in yesterday’s elections, a paltry 9.9 percent, including yours truly, bothered casting a ballot according to preliminary tallies Read More

Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to civic awareness

Only one percent of respondents answered all five of the relatively easy questions correctly. Read More

New law opens door into the financial dealings of public officials

A new law will help make it easier for Californians to keep tabs on their public officials. Gov. Jerry Brown this week signed legislation sponsored by the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) designed to provide greater public access to financial disclosure statements by public officials. Read More

Cal-Access upgrade shelved with Governor Brown’s veto of campaign finance bill

Despite rejecting Senator Leland Yee’s (D-San Francisco) bill to bring California’s campaign finance disclosure system into the 21st, Brown acknowledged the need to overhaul Cal-Access. Read More

California voters bedridden with election fatigue

While I reluctantly waited in line for a Flu shot yesterday, I started thinking about another highly contagious affliction affecting thousands of Californians: Election Fatigue. Read More

Voter registration train begins rolling forward with California’s Health Benefit Exchange

Although others are expected to follow California’s lead, the Golden State is just one of five that will provide voter registration services to applicants for healthcare coverage. Read More

SB 3 vital to modernizing California’s campaign finance database

With one stroke of a pen, Governor Jerry Brown can help bring California’s campaign finance and lobbying database into the 21st century Read More

Registering to vote critical for California’s democracy

California’s potential voter population is significantly larger than the entire population of Arizona (!).  Read More

Lucky Voter #38: LA Co. special elections suffer from high cost and low turnout

When 90 percent of eligible voters stay home, something is clearly broken Read More

Is your absentee ballot being counted? Californians have new ways to find out

If you voted by mail in last year’s presidential election (and the majority of Californians did), do you know if your ballot was actually counted? Read More

La Secretaria de Estado de California gana premio por sistema de registro de votantes por Internet

El lanzamiento del nuevo sistema de registro de votantes por Internet el año pasado, un proyecto supervisado por la Secretaria de Estado Debra Bowen, fue tan exitoso que The Center For Digital Government nombro el sistema como la mejor aplicación al servicio del público del 2013.  Leer más

Online voter registration efforts earn SOS props from Center for Digital Government

At the Center’s Best of California awards, California Secretary of State’s online voter registration portal took home the prize for 2013’s Best Application Serving the Public. Read More

Campaign finance bills target ads full of “truthiness” but short on truth

A set of laws enforced by the Federal Trade Commission protects consumers from false or deceptive advertising. Shouldn’t voters be protected from misleading advertising too? Read More

Follow the money—if you can

Accessing campaign finance data requires navigating the state’s archaic and cumbersome online disclosure portal, Cal-ACCESS Read More

Where did all the voters go in the Los Angeles City Council special election?

One of every eight Americans lives in California, but too few of us make our voices heard through ballot box. Read More

President Obama pushes for smarter government to boost effectiveness

Last week President Obama laid out a vision for greater government efficiency directing his Cabinet to build a “smarter, more innovative, and more accountable government for its citizens.” Read More

San Francisco’s health analyzed neighborhood by neighborhood with new mobile app

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee announced the launch of a mobile application that uses open government data to rank the health of each of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, block-by-block. Read More

Is your absentee ballot being counted in California?

One person, one vote, that’s the fundamental principle of our democracy Read More

California Legislature digressing on transparency and open data

The legislature recently took one step forward and two steps back on the road towards greater transparency in California. Read More

Decline in elected women in Los Angeles flies under the radar

That’s right, just one of 18 elected officials in Los Angeles will be a woman, despite women accounting for slightly more than 50 percent (!) of the population. Read More

Combo of record spending and low turnout in LA mayoral race sees 87 dollars spent per vote

Los Angeles mayoral race may have had the lowest turnout since '30s. Read More

Transparency train keeps rolling with President’s open data executive order

President Barack Obama issued a historic executive order and new open data policy making vast troves of previously inaccessible government data available for public scrutiny and use. Read More

Video: HOPE Latina Action Day presses for civic engagement

Hispanic women will soon comprise more than 20 percent of the state’s population Read More

Video: Educated Latinos vital for California’s future

California faces an estimated shortage of one million college educated workers by the year 2025. Read More

California gets dismal grade from U.S. PIRG in government transparency

According to the annual “Following the Money” report, having dropped from 43rd to 49th place, California is only slightly more open about how it spends money than North Dakota.  Read More

New report reveals California women most hurt by budget cuts

With National Women’s History Month just having come to a close over the weekend, a new report finds that California’s budget crisis exacerbated the effects of the economic downturn on women. Read More

Online Voter Registration proves to be major success

Contrary to analyst predictions, online registrants were both diverse and more likely to turnout to vote Read More

Should California measure wellbeing when setting policy?

A number of countries, including Britain, Brazil, and Canada, have embraced similar initiatives to gauge their citizens’ wellbeing Read More

Popularity of vote-by-mail adds extra complication to counting votes accurately

In 2010, California rejected more absentee ballots than any other state, 0.7 percent. Read More

“Dirty money” shaping California elections

Anonymous donations in the millions have had huge impacts on CA elections Read More

Chico latest California city to restructure in deficit fight

Restructuring may be hard, but Stockton and San Bernardino would argue that bankruptcy is harder.  Read More

Off-year election fatigue in California: myth or legitimate affliction?

More than a quarter of California cities hold their municipal elections in off-cycles or off-years, meaning they don’t coincide with state and federal elections in June and November of even-numbered years. As a result, citizens in city of Los Angeles, for example, essentially suffer through a perpetual election season. Read More

Path toward online voting stymied by fear of hacking

Don’t rush out and buy an iPad just yet; it’s unlikely that you’ll be voting for president, governor, or mayor on one anytime soon.  Read More

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom ushers in 21st century to California government

In an effort to speed up this process of technological innovation in government, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has partnered with Code for America to launch the Citizenville Challenge. Read More

New legislation targets California Millennial vote

Millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, make up the fastest growing and most diverse generation in history. By the 2020 presidential election, by which time all members of this generation will be of voting age, Millennials will represent nearly 40 percent of all eligible voters nationwide. Read More

The dynamics of governing Open Data

As public agencies are being pushed to release more data, a report from the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) looks at what governments should consider before implementing transparency initiatives to ensure efforts have a valuable impact on good governance and public utility. Read More

Gender gap in the California Legislature widening, not closing

A record number of women are serving in the 113th Congress in our nation's capitol: 20 in the Senate and 78 in the House of Representatives. While women made historic gains at the federal level during the last election, however, women actually lost ground at the state level in California. Read More

Video: Redistricting quirk leaves some unrepresented, others with two state senators

A quirk resulting from the 2011 redistricting process has left nearly 4 million Californians without an elected representative in the state's upper legislative chamber for the next two years, while others are temporarily represented by two state senators. Read More

New California Senate Bill 113 would encourage teen voter pre-registration

The legislation, introduced by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), hopes to encourage teens applying for their learner’s permit or driver’s license at the DMV to pre-register to vote. Read More

Sunnyvale: Making police and fire services interchangeable

As cities are still adjusting to new a fiscal reality, not even sacred cows like police and fire departments are being spared from the budget knife. Read More

Plan Monrovia: How one California city is making a lean budget work

As cities are being challenged to do more with less, city officials and residents share the same goal: ensuring that limited resources are being spent wisely. In Monrovia, they are working in tandem to do just that. Read More

California Democrats continuing march toward campaign transparency

It is only weeks into this new legislative session and Democratic state lawmakers have already introduced a handful of bills aimed at increasing campaign disclosure requirements and transparency in California’s elections. Read More

Senate Bill 44 would further expand Online Voter Registration in California

Although more than 18 million Californians are now registered to vote, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) says that’s not enough and wants to expand the system with Senate Bill 44. Read More

Turning California farmers into farm owners

The Golden State continues to produce the largest number of agriculture exports in the nation, accounting for nearly 12 percent of the US total. Read More

Latino Caucus riding wave of changing California demographics

Hispanics turned out in record numbers on Election Day and made historic gains in Congress and state legislatures, yet they remain underrepresented in local government. A new group looks to change that. Read More

How do California’s accounting practices stack-up nationally?

The States Project was created to provide non-partisan and reliable information on states’ financial health in an easily accessed and digestible manner. Read More

City of Alameda moves to two year budget cycle

On Tuesday, the city council of Alameda voted to convert to biennial budgeting; a process designed to promote fiscal discipline, long-term policy planning, and increased accountability.  Read More

Video: California Latino students face an achievement crisis

A quarter of California high school students didn’t graduate in 2011. Latino and limited English proficiency (LEP) students fared even worse, with respective graduation rates of 70 percent and 60 percent.  Read More

Civic startup shows real-time performance of city governments

In a time of scarce resources and looming bankruptcies, cities are increasingly turning to Big Data to become more efficient. Into this space is where civic startups are putting some Silicon Valley innovation and know-how into making government work better.  Read More

California state payroll transparency site reveals interesting city data

According to a completely redesigned website showing wage and benefit data for public employees across California, at an average annual salary of over $100,000, Indian Wells city employees have the highest average wages compared to any city in the state.  Read More

California elections reflect historic national Latino turnout

Over the last several election cycles much has been said about the potential impact of the Latino vote. Would 2012 be the year the sleeping giant, composed of roughly 24 million eligible Latino voters, awakes? Based on Tuesday’s preliminary results, the answer is a resounding yes.  Read More

Vallejo residents directly decide how to spend sales tax revenue

How would you spend $3.2 million to improve your city? The city of Vallejo is asking residents to decide that very question.  Read More

Despite media narrative, California electorate not as diverse as population

Although you might not know it given that the mobilization of the Latino voting bloc is one of the main reasons cited by the media for President Obama's re-election, California’s electorate does not yet reflect the state population’s racial diversity. Read More

Voting tech: We’ve come a long way since hanging chads

This year, as in every other important election year, there has been quite a bit of discussion about the status of the nation’s elections process and the potential for voting system failure. The good news is that, according to a new report by the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project, voting technology has come along way since the infamous “hanging chads” fiasco of 2000.  Read More

Santa Ana bolsters transparency efforts by approving Sunshine Ordinance

Earlier this week, the City of Santa Ana agreed to let the sunshine in. On Monday the city council approved the community driven “Sunshine Ordinance” designed to bring transparency to City Hall.  Read More

California Millennial voter registration up, but is it enough?

Voter registration is up among young Californians, but the increase is not enough to close the age gap among registered voters. The number of 18 to 24 year old Californians registering to vote increased between 2002 and 2010, but these young voters remain underrepresented as a proportion of California’s electorate, according to a new study released last week by the University of California, Davis. Read More

City of Palo Alto takes another major step toward transparency

Have you ever blown out a tire due to an unfixed pothole and angrily wondered how much your city’s public works department actually spends on street maintenance? Or received a parking ticket that made you speculate as to how much revenue your city collects annually from parking enforcement? If you live in Palo Alto, answers to these questions and more are now just a few mouse clicks away. Read More

Senate bill would translate California ballot initiatives into nine languages

SB 1233, authored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), would mandate the State Attorney General’s office to translate ballot initiative and reference title and summaries in all minority languages covered by the VRA, as well as require signature gatherers to carry translated copies while circulating petitions. Read More

Election day registration signed into California law by Gov. Brown

Assembly Bill 1436, by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), which passed out of both houses along party-line votes earlier this year, will allow eligible California voters to register and vote up to and on Election Day. Currently, voter registration forms must be postmarked 15 days prior to any election.  Read More

California Millennials: Don’t be fooled into thinking your vote doesn’t count

Young people have a real opportunity to decide which candidates or propositions win this November as elections are increasingly being won by slim majorities. But if they aren’t registered, they can’t vote. Read More

Governor signs bill improving California redistricting process

This November many Californians find themselves in new assembly, senate, and congressional districts. As a result of the passage of Prop 11 in 2008 and Prop 20 in 2010, the power to draw legislative and congressional boundaries was taken out of the hands of the legislature and given to an independent 14-member panel known as the Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC). Read More

CA Millennials: Rock The Vote targeting frequent fliers, gamers, and electronic dance music fans

Fasten your seatbelts and place your seatbacks and tray tables in their full upright, and locked position...and prepare to register to vote Read More

Updated: California legislature mulling election day voter registration

On Thursday the Senate Appropriations Committee approved AB 1436, legislation that would allow citizens to register to vote up to and on election day. The approval sends the bill to the Senate floor for a majority vote later this month. Read More

California Legislature: Open data initiative to see final vote next week

A bill authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) would create an open data standard for electronic documents making government more transparent and accountable Read More

City of Palo Alto spearheading work toward smarter California government

By launching a new Open Data initiative, the city of Palo Alto once again flexes its digital chops in leading the charge toward a more open, transparent government Read More

Cutting fees to save TV production jobs in California studied by Los Angeles

Impact of TV production on local economy prompts City Council resolution on film permits Read More

Could voting system failure in CA affect November elections?

A new study ranks each state in preparedness for fraud and failure at the ballot box. How did California fare? Read More