Democracy & Civic Engagement
The Democracy and Civic Engagement Program (“DCE”) at the ACLU of Northern California recognizes that the principles of freedom, equality, and justice enumerated in the U.S. Constitution and imbedded in federal and state laws are not equitably applied to or enjoyed by all people in this country because of historic and systemic racism. The DCE team also recognizes the inequitable enforcement of our laws and policies, and that those same laws and policies can sometimes also reinforce systems of oppression, exclusion, and disenfranchisement of many groups of people.
The Democracy and Civic Engagement (“DCE”) works to break down structural barriers to civic engagement and protects the rights of people to participate in democratic processes and institutions. We work to ensure broader, more equitable and inclusive engagement in public discourse and participation in political activities. We work to ensure that voting rights are protected, government agencies and elected officials are accountable, and that core values like freedom of speech, the press, and civic engagement are defended against suppression. Through litigation, advocacy, civic engagement, and voter education campaigns, we work to make an expansive and inclusive democracy that represents all Californians.
We prioritize reforms that build pathways to civic participation for communities that have been historically disenfranchised from civic participation, and ensure that people with disabilities, limited-English speakers, and who have been underrepresented do not face barriers at the ballot box. We work in coalition with statewide and local partner organizations to ensure that our projects and campaigns are centered in the needs of the communities and impacted people.
The ACLU of Northern California’s voting rights team has a longstanding goal of advancing voting rights, including by closing voter participation gaps and removing unfair barriers that continue to leave historically disenfranchised voters underrepresented in our democracy. Our voting rights team also works on ensuring that all Californians, regardless of their socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, disability, age, ability to speak English, or criminal conviction, have meaningful and fair access to engage in our democracy. Read more about our voting rights work.
The ACLU of Northern California is dedicated to advancing governmental transparency and accountability. As part of our advocacy work, we rely on public records to gather information and ensure that the public is informed about the conduct and practices of public officials. Through advocacy and litigation, we also work to expand and protect access to government bodies and information and ensuring that people can meaningfully participate in government proceedings. Read more about our open government work.
The ACLU of Northern California has a longstanding commitment to protecting free speech rights. We are dedicated to ensuring that all people are free to express themselves – politically, artistically, socially and through other forms of personal expression – without government interference. Read more about our free speech work.