Record-breaking voter turnout helps address disparities, but a difficult post-election road lies ahead

Record-breaking voter turnout helps address disparities, but a difficult post-election road lies ahead for our communities.

The historic November 3 general election will impact our country, state and region for years to come. While the dust is still settling, we are beginning to get a general idea of what the impact may be. Early signs are pointing to a difficult road ahead for the communities Silicon Valley Community Foundation serves.

Let’s start with the good news – voter turnout was staggeringly high. Nearly 85% of registered voters in both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties voted in this election; rarely has an electorate more closely resembled the community. The diligent work of our voter engagement partners in both San Mateo County and San Jose helped narrow the typical turnout gap both between whites and people of color, and between low- and high-income communities. Though we are waiting for final data, it’s clear that mailing a ballot to every voter and encouraging the use of drop boxes and mail submissions was effective. Close to 10 million Californians cast their ballots at least a week before Election Day. For perspective, this is nearly equivalent to the quantity of Californians who voted in the 2018 election. Across the country, turnout is on track to break a 120 year old record.

At the federal level, it remains to be seen whether the government will be unified or divided. The general consensus is that a divided government (one party controlling the Presidency and the other controlling either one or both houses of Congress) means that progress will either be slow or nonexistent. With COVID-19 relief set to expire at the end of 2020 and a lackluster economy waiting on stimulus, there has never been a more urgent time for both parties to agree. The communities we serve in Silicon Valley desperately need support. We regularly hear stories of families going hungry and shrinking budgets from our COVID-19 relief partners. Our neighbors need help now.

In California, SVCF was disappointed to see voters reject two opportunities to advance real systemic change towards racial and economic justice.  By narrowly rejecting Proposition 15, billions of dollars of revenue are prevented from reaching schools and communities, with budget cuts on the horizon. Leading up to the election, we commissioned studies highlighting the risk of maintaining our current volatile revenue model that results in substantial cuts during recessions. In the Great Recession, our state's spending per pupil fell and California ranked 36th in the United States, and that’s before factoring in the cost of living. And by rejecting Proposition 16, California will remain one of only nine states that do not allow for affirmative action policies in education, employment and contracting. This means that women, BIPOC community members, and other minority groups will continue to lack equal opportunities in these areas.

The years ahead will be tough, and the urgency to give locally is greater than ever before. SVCF continues to bolster our support of movements organizing for racial justice, in alignment with our recently adopted strategic plan. Following the election, we launched our Community Catalyst Fund, focused on providing grants to BIPOC- led and allied organizations. This is part of a long-term commitment to seek change in our region, state and country. Although the skies are cloudy today, we know that the sun will break through.

SVCF’s Community Catalyst Fund

SVCF’s Community Catalyst Fund: We invite nonprofits to submit grant applications now through Wednesday, December 2 at 11:59 p.m.
Apply Here »

Schools and Communities First

Schools and Communities First: SVCF and partners commissioned independent, nonpartisan research into the potential impacts of Proposition 15 to help Californians make an informed decision when voting.
View the Research » 

Moving forward with hope and determination

Moving forward with hope and determination: Post-election reflections from SVCF President and CEO Nicole Taylor
Read the Blog »