Voice for Democracy
Newsletter of Californians for Proportional Representation
New Year brings new hope
The first nine weeks of this year provide us with several opportunities to bring PR and IRV to the attention of many different audiences throughout the State as well as a critical implementation in San Francisco with Proposition A – The IRV initiative. Success in San Francisco would put reforming the voting system, as distinct from other types of election reforms, on the national political agenda. CPR has already donated $1,000. You can make your own personal contribution with a tax-deductible check mailed to: FairVote SF, PO Box 22411, San Francisco, CA 94122 (donations of $100 or more must provide home address, occupation and employer). Precinct walking and other campaign activities are occurring every Saturday and Sunday from 1910 Mission St @15th (16th St BART stop) from 10am - 1 pm. To get involved with the campaign, please contact Caleb Kleppner, 415-824-2735 or calebk (at) fairvote.org or visit http://www.improvetherunoff.org/
The Democrats and Republicans are holding their respective state conventions in February; the Republicans in San Jose on Feb 8-10 and the Democrats in Los Angeles on Feb 22-24. We will be tabling at both events. If you or anyone in your chapter can help out, please contact the appropriate Chapter Coordinator (see page 3)
Nat Lerner – Editor.
Steve Hill, Proposition A Campaign Manager, latest update (1/19/02)
The campaign is really rolling along, with recent
endorsements from the San Francisco Labor Council and City Democratic
Club. It's time to pick up where we left off in December -- delivering
our message to every door step in San Francisco that there is a better way than
low-turnout, expensive and voter-UNfriendly December runoffs. That way is
Proposition A – Instant Runoff Voting, or as some have taken to calling it,
SAME-DAY runoff voting.
Two recent studies have documented that December runoffs disproportionately hurt districts and precincts with higher numbers of minority voters and progressive/liberal voters, who turn out in lower numbers than conservative districts and precincts. Instant runoff voting will level the playing field
and do away with the kind of manipulation that goes on around December runoffs.
In November and December we delivered 35,000 doorhangers to San Francisco homes. We need to re-double our efforts, we really need your help and support, now more than ever. We will go forth with the message of Prop A: "One election, not two. Improve the Runoff. Increase voter turnout, decrease mudslinging campaigns, and save $2 million per election that can be used for other city services."
Please join us! All best, Steven Hill Proposition A campaign manager.
Refocusing Our Movement by Dave Robinson, CPR Board member and Information VP
In the past year, California's election reformers saw an exciting amount of progress, mostly involving single-winner elections and equipment upgrades. This includes the creation of the equipment funding ballot measure, an instant runoff voting bill in the state assembly, the San Francisco instant runoff ballot measure, creation of the IRV Coalition, and an increase in awareness of election reform issues by leaders and activists throughout the state. Prospects for further advancement look good in 2002 and the years to come. It is crucial that we be prepared for this growth by working together in a dynamic, cohesive organization and by building a strong reputation.
formed a committee several months ago to consider new ways to do this. After
discussion with many active CPR members, this committee plans to bring several
proposals to the Annual General Meeting in May.
The first recommendation is that California's election reform movement be organized around a single set of central principles, as opposed to several clusters of activity or interest revolving around a specific solution to a problem. To achieve this, and to allow our organization to maintain a leading role, the committee will propose a change to the statement of purpose in our bylaws.
The current statement reads: The primary objectives and purposes of this corporation shall be to promote and work for the implementation of proportional representation and other electoral reforms.
The purpose of this corporation is to promote the use of election methods in California that pursue the following democratic principles:
*All voters deserve an equal voice.
* Each voter deserves to have
that voice expressed by a representative s/he supports.
* All voters deserve a diverse array of realistic choices.
* Group decisions should reflect a mandate of a majority of voters.
In addition to more clearly stating our case, this change would allow single-winner and PR activists to work together under the same roof.
This revision would adjust our focus, but not mandate major structural change. It would not force PR supporters to work on IRV or vice versa, and it would not inhibit the work of activists of either type on their respective reforms. Instead, it would allow us to share resources to the extent that we have common interests.
The second recommendation is that the organization change its name to reflect this new focus. We established several criteria for the group's name. It should:
1. Describe our objectives
2. Be short and catchy
3. Appeal to all Californians (and not just activists)
The Board is currently considering four names:
* FairVote - this name has some momentum because both we and the Center for Voting and Democracy use it in our web addresses, groups in Minnesota and Canada use it, and CVD has been using it for various political efforts. For our purposes, there is concern that does not satisfy the third criterion above - that it emphasizes a redistribution of power among voters that could, upon first glance, alienate conservatives and less
committed folks upon whose support we depend. It also falls short on the first criterion. In cases such as the San Francisco ballot measure, our selling points are efficiency, convenience, and higher turnout, not fairness. We would need to append "California" to the end to distinguish
ourselves from the other groups.
* Voter Voice - This name captures our principles in a more general and neutral way. It emphasizes empowerment of all voters, rather than some at the expense of others. We have a nice logo for this at http://www.directrep.org/VoterVoice.jpg We could append "California" if we want.
* Californians for Electoral Reform - this is a more straightforward name that would be a good compromise if the above two stir up too many
* Center for Voting and Democracy of California - with this name, we could tie in to the national group, assuming that it wants to associate in this
way with local activists.
If we adopt a new name, it's likely that the existing names, "Californians for PR" and "California IRV Coalition", would be used as a list of endorsers of these specific reforms that may include individuals or groups who are not members of our organization.
We encourage input from the membership on these recommendations and look forward to discussing them with you at or before the May meeting. If you have comments or alternative proposals, please send them to me (dbr (at)
A note regarding last issue's letters section
We value the role of The Voice for Democracy as an open forum for our membership. However, after receiving feedback from members regarding the letter from a member in the previous issue and my response to it, we have decided to adopt a new policy that, while letters representing all
points of view are welcome, letters that do not maintain a level of personal respect toward our membership may be subject to editing or may
not be published, at the editor's discretion. We apologize to readers who may have been offended by this exchange.
Thanks Steve Chessin.
El Dorado County News – from Paula Lee
County IRV supporters continue to pursue an IRV charter amendment.
The Board of Supervisors sent the IRV proposal to the County Counsel's office
to review for legality and
it is still sitting there. In the meantime the local
League of Women Voters have produced a tri-fold
brochure on IRV that encourages folks to call the Board of Supervisors and request that IRV be put on the ballot.
The League is offering speakers on IRV to groups and people who want to have "house parties" to learn about IRV.
Bay Chapter news
The Berkeley City Clerk's Feasibility Study on IRV has been delayed; the City Council does still have time to put it on the Fall 2002 ballot. We'll watch the SF IRV campaign closely this Spring.
We have been told but have not confirmed that IRV (or "preference voting") is included in the language on an Oakland measure coming up in the Spring 2002 election regarding filling mayoral vacancies by election. Last year Oakland approved a similar measure for City Council vacancies - the language included using IRV among other turnout-increasing strategies. We supported the KPFA Local Advisory Board's second election of Listener Representatives. The election uses modified STV (Choice Vote) to elect 7 seats (out of 18 candidates this year). A total of 4,332 votes were cast from 29,578 mailed ballots (15% return); Both mail-in and Internet voting was used again. More information is available at www.kpfalab.org Jim Lindsay and David Greene will present a review of IRV and PR to the Albany-Berkeley-Emeryville chapter of the League of Women Voters on Thursday Feb. 14. The next chapter meeting will be Tuesday Feb. 19, 7pm, at 1614 Sixth St. in Berkeley. Call 510-526-5852.
News from San Diego
Ed Teyssier and others are working to have support for IRV and PR included into the Libertarian Party Platform in mid-February. He is also going to seek State Convention delegate endorsement of San Francisco’s Proposition A – the IRV initiative. Good luck Ed!
Local Chapters and Contacts
San Diego County Edward Teyssier 858-546-1774
edward (at) k-online.com
Southern California Casey Peters (213)-385-2786 cp (at) pcmagic.net
Monterey County Nat Lerner (831)-442-1238 natscottl (at) yahoo.com
South Bay Jim Stauffer (408)-432-9148 jstauffer (at) igc.org
San Francisco Betty Traynor (415)-558-8133
btraynor (at) energy-net.org
East Bay David Greene (510)-658-3085 dmgreene (at) igc.org
Sacramento County Pete Martineau (916)-967-0300 petemrtno (at) aol.com
El Dorado County Paula Lee (530)-644-8760 paulalee (at) softcom.net
North Bay Wayne Shepard (707)-5520-5317 pauldebits (at) juno.com
Co-Vice-Presidents of Local Chapters are Jim Stauffer (408)-432-9148 /email at jstauffer (at) igc.org
and Betty Traynor (415)-558-8133 /email at btraynor (at) energy-net.org
Voice for Democracy is published by Californians for Proportional Representation (prior to May 2000 Northern California Citizens for Proportional Representation). Our web site at http://fairvoteca.org may have more current information. Please submit articles or letters for publication to: c/o David Robinson, Voice for Democracy, 52B Escondido Village, Stanford CA 94305 or e-mail to dbr (at) stanford.edu
South Bay News
The South Bay Chapter is preparing literature and signing up volunteers for tabling at the Republican state party convention, which will be in San Jose on Feb. 8 - 10. Anyone interested in helping out can call the Chapter Coordinator. Our Chapter will also be hosting the CPR Annual General Meeting and retreat on May 18 - 19. Another project looking for volunteers to get it going is the preparation of a candidates survey. This survey would be aimed at politicians to gauge their knowledge of and receptiveness towards local implementation of IRV and PR. Jim Stauffer, (408) 432-9148 jstauffer (at) igc.org
Support Proposition 41
The Jan 26 meeting of the CPR Board endorsed Proposition 41. The exact wording of the measure is “Should the state borrow $200 million through the sale of general obligation bonds to assist counties in the purchase of updated voting systems?” It will allow voting machines to be upgraded to be choice-voting friendly as well. Please lobby newspapers, talk shows and friends to support this measure.
Resolution on Afghanistan
following resolution was passed at the January 26, 2002 Board meeting of the
Californians for Proportional Representation. “Californians for
Proportional Representation urges the US Department of State, the United
Nations and those other organizations and individuals that may be advising the
Afghanistan interim government on selecting a Constitutional Assembly or
initiating democratic elections to consider the many advantages of Proportional
Representation voting systems.
Proportional Representation (PR) systems provide the fairest representation in populations made up of disparate groups, as is the situation in Afghanistan. PR systems are also known to increase the level of cooperation in legislatures where there is no dominant majority party. Given the history of PR, such as most Eastern Bloc countries adopting PR systems after the breakup of the Soviet Union and that various forms of PR are used by most democratic governments around the world, we encourage all forms of PR to be seriously considered.” It is being sent to:- Koffi Annan, Secretary General of The United Nations, Colin Powell, Secretary of State, the US Department of State, John Ashcroft, Attorney-General, US Department of Justice, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, California’s Senators, Associated Press and Reuters.
Voice for Democracy
P.O. Box 128
Sacramento, California 95812