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 IRV use (first used in 2010)
- Berkeley's Measure I: the successful
ballot measure enabling IRV use (first used in 2010)
- San Francisco's Proposition A: the successful 2002
ballot measure campaign to enact IRV, first used in 2004
- Santa Clara County's Measure F: the successful 1998 ballot measure campaign to enable IRV
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 IRV use have been passed in
Oakland (for city
council vacancies) and
San Leandro (for
city council and mayor). See the
Oakland Preference Voting website to learn more and help.
- Los Angeles and other southern CA cities have pondered IRV 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 IRV could be a step forward.
CfER's vigilance has included advocating steps to improve
implementation of ranked-choice voting, and
providing counterarguments to lingering opposition forces in
San Francisco and the East Bay.
- 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 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 the state of the art.
It is always 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
- 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 IRV 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 an IRV election, he began a vitriolic and persistent
campaign against the voting method that has so far been unsuccessful.
Before a public campaign is attempted, it's important to lay the
foundations by spreading the word about election
reform and making sure that key constituencies understand and support it.
Even if a campaign for election 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.
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