Voice for Democracy | May/June 2019
IMPORTANT VOTING RIGHTS SETTLEMENT IN MICHIGAN
RCV TO BE USED STARTING THIS NOVEMBER
Eastpointe, Michigan, had been using traditional at-large voting, which discriminates against minorities — both ethnic minorities and political minorities. In order to solve this problem, the city and the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to use Ranked Choice Voting city-wide as the best solution. Rank Choice Voting, when done city-wide, is a Proportional Representation system, so everyone expects there will proportionate representation for African-Americans in Eastpointe starting this November.
This impacts California, because this will show that RCV is the best solution when there are voting rights issues in a city or any other jurisdiction. In many cities, districts elections are used, and while they often do a decent job of solving the voting rights problem, they create other problems, such as dividing the city into mini-jurisdictions that often fight each other, and huge fights over how to draw the districts every ten years.
For more, see this article from FairVote.
LOCAL CHOICE ACT PASSED IN THE SENATE
SB 212, the Local Choice Act, passed the California Senate 28-8 this April. SB 212 is CfER’s top legislative priority and would allow each of the 377 general law cities in California to use Ranked Choice Voting upon approval of their voters. Currently, general law cities are prohibited from using RCV — they first have to become charter cities. SB 212 also covers school boards and other jurisdictions. Finally, it puts RCV into the state elections code, which will help calm nervous election staff.
This is a really big deal. Next we have to get it through the Assembly. You can help by contacting your assembly member by phone, email, or even in person, and asking them for their support of SB 212.Go Local Choice Act!
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS ADOPTS GREAT ELECTORAL PROCESS POSITION
The LWV is one the most highly respected and trusted groups by the American public, and the California LWV now has a position on how we elect our representatives. The California LWV has recently adopted a position that allows any local branch of the LWV in California to support RCV for multiple winner elections. The California LWV has supported RCV for single-winner elections since 2001. While this position does not support any one particular system, it does support alternatives to plurality voting for single and multiple winner elections. The position is based on electoral system studies and developed positions from 15 State Leagues and can be used to evaluate or propose an electoral system change that would increase voter representation, especially for political and ethnic minority voices. It will also be considered at the LWVUS convention in 2020 as a national position.
This is a huge win for our movement because now the LWV is aligned with our goals to increase voter representation via electoral system reform. This new position, which has also been adopted by the Tennessee State League, includes support for voter education when proposing changes to electoral systems. It will allow local RCV campaigns to gain momentum and support in California and Tennessee communities. Local Leagues can now support single-winner and multiple-winner RCV campaigns without having to do their own study.
Please contact Paula Lee to get a copy of the actual policy, and to get help with how to get your local chapter to officially endorse your RCV campaigns, support your RCV work, etc. You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org. Paula encourages CfER members to join the League of Women Voters in your community or county.
ELECTORAL REFORM QUIZ
Can you describe Ranked Choice Voting in 1 minute or less? How about 30 seconds or less? Stand in front of a mirror, and start your timer, can you do it?
(See the bottom of this newsletter for one possible 30-second “elevator pitch” for RCV.)
Californians for Electoral Reform has been working for Proportional Representation and Ranked Choice Voting for over 20 years, and we continue to work on these issues actively. We are an action-oriented group, with chapters and contacts around the state, working in the State Legislature, and working in many local communities, promoting and educating about PR and RCV.
We have led successful campaigns for RCV in San Leandro, Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley, and spoken to thousands of people. RCV is now much more well known than it was 20 years ago, and is being seriously considered in several jurisdictions around the state. We have twice got legislation through both houses of the legislature and to the governor’s desk. We are well known in Sacramento and in electoral reform circles, and have a lot of respect in Sacramento and statewide.
JOIN US! You can join for free. You can also send in a little (or a lot of) money to help the movement if you can. If you have time and energy you can get involved in a campaign or education work. If a friend sent you this newsletter, and you want to get our quarterly newsletter and monthly updates, you can do that too, at no cost. Click here to join the movement for PR and IRV!
In July, we’ll be bringing you a brief update on electoral reform.
THE ELECTORAL REFORM QUIZ ANSWER — ONE POSSIBLE 30 SECOND ELEVATOR PITCH FOR RCV
“Ranked Choice Voting gives voters more power because they don’t have to worry about vote spitting or spoiler candidates. It is very easy to vote using RCV.
You just put down your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices, and if your 1st choice doesn’t win, your vote goes to your 2nd choice. If your 2nd choice doesn’t win, your vote goes to your 3rd choice.
RCV is used in San Francisco, Oakland, San Leandro, and Berkeley, in many other cities in the USA, the state of Maine, and a number of countries including Australia and Ireland, and has worked very well in all of these cities and countries.”
— CfER Staff