Voice for Democracy Winter 2003 Newsletter of Californians for Electoral Reform Questionnaires Mailed to California Candidates! IN THIS ISSUE: Save the Date President's Letter Call for Nominations San Francisco Report Sacramento's Fun House Mirror Local Chapters & Contacts ------------- Save the Date ------------- Mark your calendars now for the CfER Annual General Meeting Saturday afternoon May 31st. Also, the CfER Annual Leadership Retreat will be all day Sunday, June 1st. More details will be mailed to members in late April or early May. ------------------ President's Letter ------------------ I've received hate-mail in the past for saying that the struggle for electoral reform is a marathon, not a sprint, and for comparing it with that of the suffragists for the right of women to vote. (That struggle took 72 years to achieve victory, as measured from that first meeting in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, to the final ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Only one of the original signers of the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments was alive to vote in the first presidential election after ratification.) Some people want total reform all at once immediately, and while I admire their passion and enthusiasm, I just don't think it will happen that quickly. As I see it, this is a step-by-step process, with victories all along the way. I want to share my vision as to how we will achieve full electoral reform (IRV and PR) in California and the rest of the nation. My vision plays out in decades: 2000-2010: The decade of local IRV. November 2003: San Francisco conducts its first IRV election. November 2004: Santa Clara and other counties complete the conversion to IRV-compatible touch screens. November 2006: Santa Clara County uses IRV for its Board of Supervisors. November 2008: San Jose uses IRV for its City Council districts. Also in this decade, Los Angeles City and/or County switch to IRV. Many other chartered cities with districts (or numbered seats) follow suit. Demand builds for a local option bill for general law cities, which passes. In the national scene, Vermont adopts IRV for its statewide elections. 2010-2020: The decade of local PR/statewide IRV. With voters used to, and enjoying, ranking candidates, chartered cities that elect at large but are in counties that use IRV switch to Choice Voting. (In Santa Clara County, these would include Mountain View and Palo Alto, perhaps as early as 2010.) 2011: Faced with the nightmare of redistricting, San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other chartered IRV cities switch to Choice Voting in multi-member districts instead. IRV adopted for state office special elections (vacancy filling), primary elections, and/or general elections. Many other states adopt IRV as well. More cities gain experience with PR for council and IRV for mayor. 2020-2030: The decade of statewide PR. With large-city experience with PR, and faced with 2021 redistricting, demand builds for PR for at least one house of the state legislature. 2030-2040: The decade of nationwide PR. With many states using PR for at least one house of their state legislatures, Congress finally amends 2 USC 2c to allow states to use PR to elect their Congressional representatives. So that's my vision. The only item guaranteed is that San Francisco is legally bound to use IRV in November 2003. A bad experience there could set the time-table back. A good experience in Vermont could move it forward. Finally, I want to end my letter with a note of congratulations. While CfER takes no position for or against any candidate, I note that CfER member Eric Lund won election last November to the Cordova Recreation and Park District Board in Sacramento county. The five-member board is elected at-large for staggered four-year terms, with three seats up this past cycle. Eric came in third, behind the two incumbents running for re-election, but well ahead of the other four challengers for the one open seat. (He had 23% more votes than his nearest opponent.) Congratulations to Eric. Perhaps he can convince his fellow Board members that it would be better to elect the Board using proportional representation! --Steve Chessin President, Californians for Electoral Reform -------------------- Call for Nominations -------------------- Call for Nominations. We will be electing our nine-member Board of Directors at our Annual General membership meeting in May. While I expect that many of the current Directors will run for re-election, we are always looking for people who want to increase their level of activity with CfER. Also, we elect our Board using proportional representation (we practice what we preach!) and PR only works if the election is contested. The Board itself meets in person every three months, and by conference call in the in-between months. Board members are encouraged (but not required) to get involved with some area of interest, such as membership development, outreach, communication, chapter coordination, finance, lobbying, or education. Candidates may be self-nominated. To nominate yourself, send your name and a statement of up to 250 words to CfER Elections, c/o Steve Willett, 6422 Irwin Court, Oakland, CA 94609. You may also send your name and statement via email to email@example.com. Nominations and statements must be received by April 19th, 2003, in order to guarantee appearance in the ballots that will be mailed to all members prior to the AGM. (If you use US mail, we recommend you mail your statement by April 12th, 2003, to guarantee timely delivery.) So consider running for the Board. It's fun, and you get to help set the direction of the Electoral Reform movement! Members from Southern California and newly active members are especially encouraged to run. --Steve Chessin President, Californians for Electoral Reform -------------------- San Francisco Report -------------------- I don't have a lot to report about San Francisco over the past year as most of the IRV work to implement it by November 2003 is being done by Caleb Kleppner and Steven Hill through behind-the-scenes meetings with the Dept. of Elections and the vendor, etc. Steve would be the better person to report on the details. We will need a lot of public education on IRV for the voters and possibly the CfER/CPR local could play a role in that with some other bodies, beyond the Dept. of Elections, such as the League of Women Voters-SF. I am planning to get some of the San Francisco CfER members together on the night of January 30 when our illustrious PR author Steven Hill will be giving a reading of "Fixing Elections" at A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books in S.F. at the Opera Plaza on Van Ness at 7 pm. I plan to send a postcard or e-mail to all S.F. CPR members and invite them to the reading and to join me (and hopefully Steve) afterwards for snacks at Max's Opera Cafe next door to the bookstore. This could give us an occasion to talk about plans for 2003. Of course all CfER members are invited January 30 to hear Steve speak. Betty Traynor Coordinator for the S.F. CFER Local 415/558-8133 ----------------------------- Sacramento's Fun House Mirror ----------------------------- Sacramento's Fun-House Mirror: Showing How California's Legislature Doesn't Closely Represent its Body Politic By Rob Latham, Board Member and Secretary, Californians for Electoral Reform "So what?" That could be one of the reactions you may get when explaining to someone that implementing proportional representation means that like-minded groupings of voters will win legislative seats in better proportion to their share of the popular vote than in winner-take-all elections. Comparing the percentage of votes received to the percentage of seats won, by both Democrats and Republicans, from the last six state legislative general elections in California is one way of showing why electoral systems matter. (See http://www.fairvoteca.org/learn/funhouse/ for the full article with the charts.) One caveat: different electoral systems call for different electoral strategies. So, one shouldn't conclude from these charts that had California used proportional representation in 2000, for example, that Democrats would have won only 53 percent of the seats in the Assembly (instead of the 62 percent they did win) and Republicans would have won 43 percent of the seats (instead of the 38 percent they did win). Still, these charts can help electoral reformers explain what we mean by a better proportion. With the exception of 1994 (the year of the so-called "Republican Revolution"), the voteshares for both Democrats and Republicans in the state assembly races don't vary by more than four and three percentage points, respectively. Q: So why the larger disparity in the state senate races in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 elections? A: That is how the mapmakers created the even-numbered state senate districts. The election outcomes in the odd-numbered state senate districts -- which were held in 1992, 1996 and 2000 -- resulted in a much better fit, proportionally speaking, between votes and seats. These charts, and their supporting spreadsheets, are available on CFER's website and the "CaliPR" Yahoo! group. (c) Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Rob Latham for Californians for Electoral Reform (www.fairvoteca.org). ------------------------- Local Chapters & Contacts ------------------------- East Bay David Greene (510) 526-5852 dmgreene at igc . org El Dorado County Paula Lee (530) 644-8760 paulalee at softcom . net Los Angeles Area Casey Peters (213) 385-2786 democracy at mail2world .com Monterey County Nat Lerner (831) 442-1238 natscottl at yahoo . com North Bay Wayne Shepard (707) 552-5317 pauldebits at juno . com Sacramento County Pete Martineau (916) 967-0300 petemrtno at bigfoot . com San Diego Area Ed Teyssier (858) 546-1774 edward at k-online . com SF County Betty Traynor (415) 558-8133 btraynor at energy-net . org Santa Clara County Jim Stauffer (408) 432-9148 jimstauffer at sbcglobal .net Voice for Democracy is published by Californians for Electoral Reform. Copyright (c) 2003. All rights reserved. P.O. Box 128 Sacramento, CA 95812 Phone: (510) 527-8025 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.fairvoteca.org Our Mission Statement... The primary purpose of this organization is to promote the implementation of election methods such as instant runoff voting and forms of proportional representation.