Resources for electoral reform campaigns
CFER has been involved in several electoral reform campaigns locally and statewide.
Local implementation of electoral reform requires:
- San Mateo County's Measure B in 2012, which switched from at-large to district elections for county supervisors.
CfER argued that other changes, such as cumulative voting or single transferable vote, would have been better.
- Oakland's Measure O:
their successful 2006 ballot measure enabling ranked-choice voting use (first used in 2010)
- Berkeley's Measure I: the successful
ballot measure enabling ranked-choice voting use (first used in 2010)
- San Francisco's Proposition A: the successful 2002
ballot measure campaign to enact ranked-choice voting, first used in 2004
- Santa Clara County's Measure F: the successful 1998 ballot measure campaign to enable ranked-choice voting
use, but not require it - it has not been used yet.
- San Francisco's Measure H: the unsuccessful 1996 ballot measure campaign to use proportional
representation (choice voting) to elect the Board of Supervisors
- More general measures containing language enabling ranked-choice voting use have been passed in
Oakland (for city council vacancies) and San Leandro (for city council and mayor). See the
Oakland Preference Voting website for more archival information.
- Los Angeles and other southern CA cities have pondered ranked-choice voting for special elections.
- CfER campaigned against the statewide "top two" ballot measure, Prop 14, in 2010.
Vote splitting in the primary election can advance unpopular candidates, especially if turnout is low, leading to a lesser-of-evils
choice in the general election. Prop 14 was a step backward when ranked-choice voting could be a step forward.
Before a public campaign is attempted, it's important to lay the
foundations by spreading the word about electoral
reform and making sure that key constituencies understand and support it.
Even if a campaign for electoral reform in your community is far off, we
encourage you to read through these materials to get an understanding of
what it takes to run a campaign.
- Compatible voting equipment -
Only one method of marking and counting ranked ballots is certified for use in California.
It uses Dominion's Insight precinct scanners, and is a retrofit that does not use this company's best technology.
Better, proven methods are readily available, except for the severe local, state and federal bureaucratic barriers to adoption of new voting technology that impose million-dollar costs and years of delay. For now, we are stuck with the Insights.
Check here to see what kind of voting
equipment your county uses. For special elections, counties can borrow equipment from other counties.
All counties use equipment well behind what current technology allows.
It is still a worthwhile effort to campaign
for an upgrade by contacting your county supervisors, your county election
officials, and your local newspaper. Here is a sample letter that you can borrow from, and documents from
Santa Clara County's equipment upgrade that your county can use as an
- Enabling language in the county or city charter.
Check here to see whether your county
and city are chartered.
If your county or city does not yet have a charter, it can adopt a simple one to improve its elections.
We have proposed and advocated legislation that would create more electoral options for cities and counties without charters; see our
- Use of best practices in the tallying and auditing of ranked-choice elections, such as prompt reporting of results.
- Ongoing voter education on how to mark ballots and how the counting process works.
- Local support for modern election methods. We need to spread
- Eternal vigilance - the campaign doesn't end with a victory at
the ballot box. Fuller representation regimes are always vulnerable to
power grabs, as well as mistrust caused by lack of experience. Awareness
and appreciation must be maintained in a community.
San Francisco's ranked-choice voting use has withstood a
court challenge, including several appeals, as well as
opposition on the Board of Supervisors. When the mayor of San Leandro lost a ranked-choice election, he began a vitriolic and persistent
campaign against the voting method that has so far been unsuccessful.
Introduction to campaigning (Microsoft Word format)
These sources can help you plan a campaign. (Microsoft Word format)
Should we run a high- or low- profile campaign? (Microsoft Word format)
About high-profile campaigns (Microsoft Word format)
About low-profile campaigns (Microsoft Word format)
Myths about campaigns (Microsoft Word format)
Sample charter amendment (Microsoft Word format)
How to gather petition signatures
Endorsement planning form (Microsoft Word format)
Campaign info in a ZIP file