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Electoral Reform
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916-455-8021
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CfER has asked the June 2014 Secretary of State candidates a series of questions related to electoral reform. Their answers are posted here. Answers from Roy Allmond (Republican)

1. Do you support using proportional representation to elect local
governing bodies and the California legislature?

 Yes, if this is what the affected voters had agreed upon.

 Explanation:  I need some clarification of the 'proportional
representation'.  It seems to me that a true proportion
representation would mean that if three candidates were to run,
and results were that the first had 40%, the second had 35%, and
the third had 25% then all would win, and they would be able to
respectively have 40%, 35%, and 25% of the power.  Would they also
receive 40%, 35%, 25% percent of the pay?  Voting power?  Office
space? etc?  This sounds like pandemonium. 


2. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using instant runoff voting for
their single-winner municipal elections?

 Yes      

 Explanation: Equal treatment under the law.


3. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using multi-winner RCV proportional
representation to elect their governing bodies?

 Yes      

 Explanation: Equal treatment under the law


4. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using cumulative voting to elect
their governing bodies?

 Yes      

 Explanation:  Equal treatment under the law.


5. What issues and requirements, if any, specific to IRV, multi-winner
RCV, and/or cumulative voting, do you foresee in developing regulations
for certifying new voting equipment that supports those election
methods? How would you address those issues and requirements?

 Response:  Paper ballots would not have the flexibility of
electronic machines.


6. What is your opinion of the top-two primary in particular and
two-round runoff systems (as used by many local jurisdictions) in
general? What are your thoughts about replacing the top-two primary
with, for example, a single IRV election with all the candidates in
November, or a 'top-four' system that winnows the field to four
candidates in June and then uses IRV to determine the final winner in
November? Do you have other ideas as to how to ensure that the most
popular candidates advance to a later, final-round general election or
runoff?

 Response:  I feel that that the Top-Two primary scheme is closest
to how the founding fathers envisioned elections to be held.  Some
have objected to their candidate being eliminated.  I counter, Not
so!  They had their chance during the primary, and after the
primary results, it is either go big, or go home.  The General
Election is not a time to want to see their name in print.

For instance, If there are seven candidates on the ballot, and if the
second candidate would be acceptable to all of the voters who had voted
for the last five ranking then the election will have been thrown to the
second best candidate. Especially if the highest vote getter only
received 40 percent of the vote and the next six had 60%  sometimes too
many choices water down the voter choices.


7. This space is for anything else you would like to say that would be
of interest to our members.

The problem I have with the series of questions is they seem to be
framed with the false assumption that the Secretary of State has more
power than assigned to the office.

The current Secretary of State has decertified the Diebold
system, claiming it is vulnerable.  Being this system was the system
she was elected with, I wonder just how did she seem to know what the
results were going to be?  If I were to have been the Secretary of
State at the time, I would have learned from the results,
and strengthened the system.  Not scrapped the whole system.

The blanket answer to all of the questions is:
* The Secretary of State is to facilitate all legally approved voting
schemes.  Whether it is IRV, RCV, STV, or musical chairs.  Not dictate
how they feel the vote should be run.  If I have any objections, it
would be because I can point to a law, a court decision, that the voting
system conflicts with.
* The Secretary of State (and the California Legislature, as well as the
California voters) does not have independent control how the Federal
Election votes are counted.  The rules have to be applied in all
States uniformly.

My goal, and it should be every candidate's goal, is to fulfill the duties
of the office in such a way that all voters; the ones who voted for,
and against, would be glad I had been elected.
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Answers from Derek Cressman (Democratic)
1. Do you support using proportional representation to elect local
governing bodies and the California legislature?

Yes.

2. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using instant runoff voting for their
single-winner municipal elections?

Yes.

3. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using multi-winner RCV proportional
representation to elect their governing bodies?

Yes.

4. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using cumulative voting to elect
their governing bodies?

Yes.

5. What issues and requirements, if any, specific to IRV, multi-winner
RCV, and/or cumulative voting, do you foresee in developing regulations
for certifying new voting equipment that supports those election
methods? How would you address those issues and requirements?

It's important that new voting equipment certified in California be able
to accommodate more than three ranked choice votes for any race. I will
support regulations to ensure that this is the case.

6. What is your opinion of the top-two primary in particular and
two-round runoff systems (as used by many local jurisdictions) in
general? What are your thoughts about replacing the top-two primary
with, for example, a single IRV election with all the candidates in
November, or a 'top-four' system that winnows the field to four
candidates in June and then uses IRV to determine the final winner in
November? Do you have other ideas as to how to ensure that the most
popular candidates advance to a later, final-round general election or
runoff?

I do not support the two-two primary. I believe that a single IRV
election, a top-four system, or possibly an Alaskan style blanket
primary would be better policy alternatives.

7. This space is for anything else you would like to say that would be
of interest to our members.

Our voting systems and electoral systems need to provide voters with a
full range of choices on election day while ensuring that the eventual
winner has the support of a majority of voters in the district. I have
been a longtime supporter of Californians for Electoral Reform,
FairVote, and other campaigns to bring about IRV, the National Popular
Vote, and other reforms.
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Answers from David Curtis (Green)
1. Do you support using proportional representation to elect local 
governing bodies and the California legislature?

Yes. It includes minor voices into representation.

2. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using instant runoff voting for their
single-winner municipal elections?

Yes, If people want to use IR they should go ahead with it at the local 
levels.

3. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using multi-winner RCV proportional
representation to elect their governing bodies?

Yes. These options should be decided at the local levels

4. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using cumulative voting to elect
their governing bodies?

Yes. Voting method options should be decided at the local levels.

5. What issues and requirements, if any, specific to IRV, multi-winner
RCV, and/or cumulative voting, do you foresee in developing regulations
for certifying new voting equipment that supports those election
methods? How would you address those issues and requirements?

There is debate whether the software should be open source or 
proprietary. These are functional concerns that need to be worked out by 
consensus.

6. What is your opinion of the top-two primary in particular and
two-round runoff systems (as used by many local jurisdictions) in
general? What are your thoughts about replacing the top-two primary
with, for example, a single IRV election with all the candidates in
November, or a 'top-four' system that winnows the field to four
candidates in June and then uses IRV to determine the final winner in
November? Do you have other ideas as to how to ensure that the most
popular candidates advance to a later, final-round general election or
runoff?

The top two is an artificial construct that needlessly reduces choice on 
the general election. I would not have a fixed number for participants 
in the general. It should be a variable number based on performance in 
the primary. IRV would also be better than the top two.

7. This space is for anything else you would like to say that would be
of interest to our members.

You should follow me on Twitter. That is the inside scoop stuff. 
Twitter: dc_us
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Answers from Jeff Drobman (Democratic)
Questionnaire:

1. Do you support using proportional representation to elect local
governing bodies and the California legislature?

 Yes

 Explanation:  I would like to see many forms of "other" voting
methods tried out on an "experimental" basis and as "advisory" votes
(non-binding) for a probationary period.


2. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using instant runoff voting for their
single-winner municipal elections?

 Yes

 Explanation:  see #1


3. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using multi-winner RCV proportional
representation to elect their governing bodies?

 Yes

 Explanation:  same


4. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using cumulative voting to elect
their governing bodies?

 Yes

 Explanation:  I favor RCV and IRV over cumulative


5. What issues and requirements, if any, specific to IRV, multi-winner
RCV, and/or cumulative voting, do you foresee in developing regulations
for certifying new voting equipment that supports those election
methods? How would you address those issues and requirements?

 Response:  I am advocating for ONLINE VOTING using Internet
protocols and devices.  I am opposed to using new, dedicated
machines.  I favor using industry standard PCs, databases, software
and networks.  These have 30+ years of development and use proven
technology.


6. What is your opinion of the top-two primary in particular and
two-round runoff systems (as used by many local jurisdictions) in
general? What are your thoughts about replacing the top-two primary
with, for example, a single IRV election with all the candidates in
November, or a 'top-four' system that winnows the field to four
candidates in June and then uses IRV to determine the final winner in
November? Do you have other ideas as to how to ensure that the most
popular candidates advance to a later, final-round general election or
runoff?

 Response:  I am in favor of trying the new "open primary" (top-two)
for a while longer to gauge public acceptance.  In the old system,
ALL parties were given a slot in the general election no matter how
qualified, and no matter how much support.  the primary was a moot
election for minor parties (usually a single candidate).  so I view
the new system as merely moving the single election for minor parties
from November to June.  but with the added advantage a a runoff
general election.  I would like to try (as I said) using RCV and IRV
for select races and issues as a companion "advisory" so we all can
see the differences the methods would show.


7. This space is for anything else you would like to say that would be
of interest to our members.

 Response:  I am running for Secretary of State to improve our
statewide voter experience -- through SECURE ONLINE INTERNET VOTING
for California.

I am running for California Secretary of State to make our statewide
voter, election systems and databases more SECURE; to increase voter
ACCESS and TURNOUT; to ensure VOTING RIGHTS; to enhance the voting
experience; increase vote tabulation reliability & security; and to
vastly reduce costs of running an election -- -- all through
implementing SECURE ONLINE INTERNET VOTING.

My ultimate goal is to support "VOTE ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, ON ANY DEVICE"
-- but only after first making our current election systems much more
secure, and improving voter vetting and authentication, and protecting
the privacy and security of voters' personal data (voter records and
ballots).

also, I have been participating in the California "super-state"
parliament's "Coalition of 7" for California statewide candidates
including Secretary of State.  we have all voted for up to 12 state
office candidates using RCV.
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Answers from Alex Padilla (Democrat)
1. Do you support using proportional representation to elect local governing
bodies and the California legislature?

I support local, geographic-based representation for the state legislature.
I believe it is vital for voters to have an elected representative
accountable directly to their constituents and capable of addressing local
concerns at the district level.  I support allowing local bodies the right
to determine their own electoral systems that ensure a fair and equal voice
for all voters.

2. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same option
that charter cities have of using instant runoff voting for their
single-winner municipal elections?

I have long supported efforts at the local level to increase turnout,
protect voting rights for all and administer elections in a way that takes
into account important local concerns.  To that end, some local cities have
adopted instant runoff voting.  Other cities and counties have adopted
policies, like district elections and early voting, to best serve their
constituents.  I will continue to support any effort to give voters more
voting options, increase civic engagement and participation and ensure local
election systems are a good fit for the local electorate and local concerns.
At the same time, I believe certain standards have to be set at the state
level to protect voting rights and ensure fair representation.  That's why I
authored the bill to ensure charter city votes occur in general elections
with higher turnout and more participation and why I've supported the
efforts in numerous local cities to move towards district rather than
at-large elections.

3. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same option
that charter cities have of using multi-winner RCV proportional
representation to elect their governing bodies?

Ranked choice voting has worked well in some parts of California where
voters have formally approved a change in voting format at the ballot box
and where local elections officials have worked to educate the electorate
about their new voting system.  Any significant change to a system like RCV
must be approved by the voters.  While I do not believe RCV is appropriate
every part of California, I certainly understand the appeal in ensuring a
more diverse candidate field, giving voters more voting options and
eliminating runoff elections.

4. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same option
that charter cities have of using cumulative voting to elect their governing
bodies?

Protecting voting rights for all and ensuring fair representation for
minorities and underrepresented groups is a top priority in elections
administration.  To that end, a system like cumulative voting where voters
can concentrate their votes for their favored candidates has its advantages.
At the same time, district elections and local efforts to increase civic
engagement and voter registration may accomplish the same goals in a
simpler, more direct way.  Regardless of the format, we must continue to
work to get more voters engaged in local elections and ensure that local
governments are as responsive as possible to local concerns.

5. What issues and requirements, if any, specific to IRV, multi-winner RCV,
and/or cumulative voting do you foresee in developing regulations for
certifying new voting equipment that supports those election methods?  How
would you address those issues and requirements?

I am proud to be the only candidate running for Secretary of State who has
pledged to visit all 58 counties and meet with local elections officials in
every county in California.  I've made this pledge because I know Sacramento
doesn't have all the answers and that every community in California is
unique and has its own issues and concerns when it comes to elections and
voting.  I've already met with the registrars for San Francisco and Alameda
counties, two of the main jurisdictions using alternative voting methods.  I
would work closely with local elections officials throughout California when
developing voting regulations.

6. What is your opinion of the top-two primary in particular and two-round
runoff systems (as used by many local jurisdictions) in general?  What are
your thoughts about replacing the top-two primary with, for example, a
single IRV election with all the candidates in November, or a 'top four'
system that winnows the field to four candidates in June and then uses IRV
to determine the final winner in November?  Do you have other ideas as to
how to ensure that the most popular candidates advance to a later
final-round general election or runoff?

Beyond an election's format, the essential question we have to answer in
California is how to get more voters engaged and participating in our
democracy.  Regardless of an election's format, we know that currently,
there are millions of Californians who do not vote and millions of
Californians who aren't even registered.  We need to work to engage more
Californians in voting.  That's why I've pledged to register a million more
voters in my first term as Secretary of State and prioritize visiting high
schools throughout California to cultivate civic engagement among the next
generation of California voters.  At the same time, we also must work to
increase trust and confidence of government.  That's why I've introduced a
tough package of campaign finance reforms in the state legislature to ban
fundraising during the last 100 days of session and strengthen campaign
finance disclosure and reporting.  By working to engage more Californians in
elections, and working to institute reforms to restore trust in government,
we can strengthen our democracy.
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Answers from Pete Peterson (Republican)
1. Do you support using proportional representation to elect local
governing bodies and the California legislature?

  No

  Explanation: While I would support the right of a local citizenry to
form this kind of government, I see proportional representation as generally
forming weak governing bodies where it is difficult for voters to find
who is accountable for a government's poor performance.


2. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using instant runoff voting for their
single-winner municipal elections?

  Yes

  Explanation: While I am not convinced that IRV is the best elections
process, I support communities in making their own decisions (within the
bounds of our State and Federal Constitutions) about how they will
conduct elections.


3. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using multi-winner RCV proportional
representation to elect their governing bodies?

  Yes

4. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using cumulative voting to elect
their governing bodies?

  Yes

5. What issues and requirements, if any, specific to IRV, multi-winner
RCV, and/or cumulative voting, do you foresee in developing regulations
for certifying new voting equipment that supports those election
methods? How would you address those issues and requirements?

  Response: Voting equipment under these conditions would have to be
able to 'count' multiple votes for the same office, and further be able
to 'count' votes cast for second/third place.


6. What is your opinion of the top-two primary in particular and
two-round runoff systems (as used by many local jurisdictions) in
general? What are your thoughts about replacing the top-two primary
with, for example, a single IRV election with all the candidates in
November, or a 'top-four' system that winnows the field to four
candidates in June and then uses IRV to determine the final winner in
November? Do you have other ideas as to how to ensure that the most
popular candidates advance to a later, final-round general election or
runoff?

  Response: I generally favor the top two primary, but acknowledge the
challenges it presents to smaller Parties. My initial solution would be
to make it easier for voters to cast 'write in' votes in the General
election, but I would be open to exploring the 'top four' system you
describe above.


7. This space is for anything else you would like to say that would be
of interest to our members.

  Response: About 10 years ago, I left a private sector career to pursue
a passion of mine - getting more citizens involved and informed about the
decisions that affect our everyday lives. That was not the best financial
decision for me or my family, but it has taken me all over this great
state consulting with and training government officials to be more
engaging of their residents - either through better processes or better
technology. My work has not been about pushing a community towards a
certain decision, but to make sure the process they used was the most
transparent and participatory. I bring this perspective and background to
this run for Secretary of State - my dream job.
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Answers from Dan Schnur (No Party Preference)
1. Do you support using proportional representation to elect local
governing bodies and the California legislature?

No. I have not seen evidence of the additional benefits of this system,
but as Secretary of State, I am open to all ideas on how to best
increased voter participation and will eager to talk with advocates of a
proportional representation system to hear their ideas in more detail.

2. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using instant runoff voting for their
single-winner municipal elections?

Yes. General law cities should have the same right as charter cities.

3. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using multi-winner RCV proportional
representation to elect their governing bodies?

Yes. General law cities should have the same right as charter cities.

4. Do you support giving general law cities and all counties the same
option that charter cities have of using cumulative voting to elect
their governing bodies?

Yes. General law cities should have the same right as charter cities.

5. What issues and requirements, if any, specific to IRV, multi-winner
RCV, and/or cumulative voting, do you foresee in developing regulations
for certifying new voting equipment that supports those election
methods? How would you address those issues and requirements?

By taking advantages of advances in voter equipment, I believe that the
state of California can encourage the acquisition of equipment that can
handle a wide range of systems.

6. What is your opinion of the top-two primary in particular and
two-round runoff systems (as used by many local jurisdictions) in
general? What are your thoughts about replacing the top-two primary
with, for example, a single IRV election with all the candidates in
November, or a 'top-four' system that winnows the field to four
candidates in June and then uses IRV to determine the final winner in
November? Do you have other ideas as to how to ensure that the most
popular candidates advance to a later, final-round general election or
runoff?

I am a supporter of the top-two primary because I believe it results in
more competitive and productive elected officials; however, there are
many improvements that can be made on the current system that can and
should lower the threshold for participation for candidates representing
smaller parties.

7. This space is for anything else you would like to say that would be
of interest to our members.

Throughout the campaign and during my time in office, my focus will be
on fixing California's broken political system and finding ways to
encourage our state's residents to become more engaged in civics and
politics. As Secretary of State, I will work to ban political
fundraising during the legislative session; support tougher campaign
disclosure laws to make sure every political contribution is public
within 24 hours; help economic recovery and job creation by simplifying
and streamlining California's business licensing operations; and will
work to restore voter confidence and participation by increasing civic
education.
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