Community Co-Design

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

The City of Rochester’s Mayor Kim Norton has taken steps to ensure the authentic and meaningful use of community engagement to drive decision-making at the policy, program, and community design levels. Involving people directly impacted by decisions from the start and utilizing their experiences, ideas, and input alongside the expertise of professionals helps optimize the city’s development. 

Rochester used the co-design methodology on issues such as housing, workforce, sustainability, and street design. The program is bringing together community members and industry professionals to address cultural, economic, and other barriers to create an equitable, just, and sustainable city. Norton aims to ensure the city takes action with people and not to them as the city grows and changes in size and demographics.


The program has resulted in more diverse representation on committees and community boards. Including: local artists working on street design in the downtown redevelopment effort, secured a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies focused on Equity in the Built Environment, which helped to diversify the city’s construction and trades, and in their sustainability and resiliency planning. Additionally, the city hopes to see growing diversity at their community events and are pleased to see Mayor Norton invited to many cultural events.

Juneteenth Bill

2023 Ideas Challenge Entry

Alabama Representative Jeremy Gray proposes adding Juneteenth as a state holiday; and deleting repetitive language and making non-substantive, technical revisions to update the existing code language to the current style.


Juneteenth would be a recognized state holiday in Alabama, helping recognize and celebrate the rich history of African Americans in the state.

Senator Barry Finegold: Expansion of Voting in Massachusetts

A committee co-chaired by NewDEAL Leader Massachusetts Senator Barry Finegold recently brokered a deal in both the House and Senate to pass a package of voting reforms that include permanent mail-in voting, increased ballot accessibility for voters with disabilities and overseas service members, and updated election administration procedures for the state. The reforms also make voter registration windows more flexible, allowing voters to register as late as 10 days before an election rather than the original 20 days. “This landmark legislation will empower voters and strengthen our democracy,” Finegold said. Read more about this important legislation, and keep an eye out for more from the NewDEAL Forum on solutions to protect voter access and build election integrity as the new Democracy Working Group ramps up.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon: Legislative Priorities to Expand Democracy in Minnesota

This week, NewDEAL Leader Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon announced legislative priorities, which include automatic voter registration, increased protections for election workers and restoring voting rights for anyone convicted of a felony still on probation or parole. As this Governing piece points out, state legislatures nationwide are considering changes to their voting systems ahead of the 2024 presidential election, with Republicans in states like Ohio, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, and Georgia seeking to enable officials to prosecute perceived election discrepancies. Along with Simon, Democrats in Connecticut, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are looking to expand access to the ballot box. “I will work with anyone of any political affiliation, from any background, from any part of our state to protect and strengthen and defend the freedom to vote,” Simon said. For more, read this article about the potential impact of Simon’s priorities.

Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes: New Election Readiness Plan

On his 100th day in office as Arizona Secretary of State, NewDEAL Leader Adrian Fontes announced a new plan to help all 15 counties in his state prepare to administer the 2024 election. To develop the plan, Fontes toured all 15 Arizona counties and met with local election administrators to gain an understanding of the unique challenges facing each community. Fontes, who co-chairs the NewDEAL Forum Democracy Working Group, plans to create a new position within his department to provide counties with the technical assistance and training needed to address physical and cybersecurity threats. “In our battle against misinformation, it is crucial that the rules governing elections be clear, concise, and understandable—not just for elections professionals but for ordinary citizens as well,” Fontes said. “We are proud to be working with county elections officials, stakeholders, and lawmakers to deliver the best manual possible.” Read more here.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver: Passage of New Mexico Voting Rights Act

NewDEAL Leader New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver helped lead the effort to enact a new Voting Rights Act in her state during this year’s legislative session. Toulouse Oliver worked with community members, election administrators, and fellow elected officials to understand the needs in communities and enact “a huge win for voters” balancing voter access with “high levels of election security.” The legislation will streamline the registration process, including with same-day voter registration, and provide more options to cast a vote with additional secure ballot drop boxes. In addition, the new set of laws include expanded protections for election officials and a first-in-the-nation Native American Voting Rights Act to give Native American tribes and nations more flexibility in administering elections. Read more about the new laws here and check out more good election policy from the NewDEAL Forum.

Military and Overseas Voting Access Portal


Previously, active duty service members had limited voting options because they lacked access to a fast and safe way to cast their ballots. There are currently 84,000 members of the military who are eligible to vote but often are not able to because of such barriers.


Secretary Kander created an online, secure voting portal to expand voting opportunities for active duty service members and eligible Missouri voters who reside overseas. This simple and fast online portal makes it easy for eligible voters to participate and helps voting centers back home easily collect their ballots. The portal ensures no eligible Missouri voter, serving their country or residing overseas, is deprived of the right to vote.

Franchise for all Citizens


Utah has had a particular problem with diminishing voter participation. A number of citizens have said they simply want options as to how they cast their ballots: some want to vote by mail, others prefer to participate in early voting, yet others enjoy the activity of voting at their neighborhood precincts on Election Day.


Casting a ballot is the most direct method by which citizens can impact their government. By making it easier and more accessible to vote, states can increase voter participation states and restore citizen trust in government. Rep. Chavez-Houck initiated an Election Day Voter Registration Pilot Program in Utah, where counties can opt-in to test and see how viable same day registration is in the state. This approach addresses some concerns about the funding and impact of this program on the state by testing it out first to see what works and learning the best ways to engage more citizens to participate in each election.

New American Boost


San José is the largest city in Santa Clara County where nearly 110,000 Legal Permanent Residents reside who are eligible for citizenship but have not applied for naturalization. Obstacles such as language barriers, lack of reliable and accessible information, cost and fear are major barriers. Citizenship allows individuals to engage in civic life and contribute to the economy.


New American Boost promotes citizenship through information and resource displays located in the businesses and meeting places frequented by the immigrant community. In addition to providing information about the naturalization process, community resources and support services, New American Boost websites highlight and explain the advantages and opportunities available to citizens. With policies like New American Boost, Mayor Liccardo hopes to make it easier for immigrants to fully participate in civic, cultural and economic life in San Jose.