I apologize for the tardiness; the printed copy went out on time but my
vacation schedule interfered with distributing the email version.
VOICE FOR DEMOCRACY
Newsletter of Californians for Electoral Reform
IN THIS ISSUE:
Will California Voters Protect Political Minorities?
SCA 14: The Voter Empowerment And Restore Democracy Amendment
Santa Monica CfER Chapter Going Strong
League Of Women Voters Support IRV In California
SAN FRANCISCO'S FIRST GO AT INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING IN NOVEMBER ELECTION
IS MADE TOP PRIORITY FOR CfER
San Francisco is on track to use Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) this
November; I'm very excited about the prospect and hope you are, too.
The CfER board has officially resolved by unanimous consent that
helping San Francisco have a successful IRV election is our top
priority through November. We encourage all of our members to assist
in this effort in any way possible. Please contact Thomas Krouse
(tkrouse@k...) for more info and to volunteer.
I also want to let you all know what happened at the Annual General
Meeting on May 22nd. We had excellent presentations on the Berkeley
IRV victory by Kenny Mostern and the San Francisco IRV situation by
At the annual meeting we also elected our new board. Elected were (in
alphabetical order) Steve Chessin, Rob Dickinson, June Genis, Dave
Heller, Dave Kadlecek, Paula Lee, Pete Martineau, Julie Walters, and
Gabrielle Weeks. I note that we have five first-timers on the Board,
two from Southern California. This brings much-needed new blood to the
Board. (We later appointed Thomas Krouse to the Board, in accordance
with our by-laws, as we had elected no Republicans. We had also
elected no one from either Natural Law or the American Independent
Party. We have a lead on an AIP appointee and are looking for a
Natural Law member.)
I note that Marda Stothers and Jim Lindsay did not run for
re-election. Jim will remain active with CfER, but Marda and her
husband will be leaving for Ireland at the end of the year, and we will
miss her greatly. (Marda was concerned that with her departure, Paula
Lee would be the only woman on the Board. Happily, that is not the
Also at the AGM we awarded our first-ever Wilma Rule Memorial Awards.
Wilma was one of the earliest members of CfER, active on our Board I
believe from the very beginning, and active with the organization as
long as her health allowed. She passed away on January 15th of this
Wilma was an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University
of Nevada, Reno. She was the author or editor of at least four books:
Russian Women in Politics and Society, The U.S. House of
Representatives: Reform or Rebuild?, United States Electoral Systems:
Their Impact on Women and Minorities, and Electoral Systems in
Comparative Perspective: Their Impact on Women and Minorities, as well
as numerous articles, both scholarly and popular. A search of "Wilma
Rule" in Yahoo! turned up 167 hits. She was a strong believer in
proportional representation, and was concerned that our growing
interest in IRV would distract us from our primary mission of PR. To
honor her memory, we created the Wilma Rule Memorial Award, to be given
to that person or persons whose work contributed to the advancement of
proportional representation in California.
At the AGM we gave out three Wilma Rule awards: to The Associated
Students of the University of California, Davis, for overwhelmingly
adopting the Choice Voting Amendment to their Constitution in February
2003, enabling them to elect their Senators using Choice Voting for the
first time in November 2003, and again in February 2004; to Casey
Peters, for overseeing the Choice Voting elections of the KPFK Local
Station Board in Los Angeles, California; and to Les Radke, for
overseeing the Choice Voting elections of the KPFA Local Station Board
in Berkeley, California. The KPFK and KPFA elections were the first
Local Station Board elections under the new Pacifica Foundation
by-laws, and together represent the largest known use of Choice Voting
in California in recent history.
At the retreat on May 23rd we elected our officers. I continue as
President, and Paula Lee as Executive Vice President. Dave Kadlecek
took on the job of Treasurer, and Rob Dickinson that of Chief Financial
Officer. We left Secretary vacant, and at our June meeting, elected
Jim Lindsay to that position.
Our portfolio Vice Presidents are Karin Root (Membership), Dave
Robinson and Jeffrey McKnight (Information), Dave Heller (Chapters),
Gabrielle Weeks (Outreach), Pete Martineau and Paula Lee (Legislation),
and June Genis (Media Relations).
That's all the space I have for this report (but see the article on SCA
14). I wanted to tell you about our testimony on voting equipment to
the Secretary of State's Voting Systems and Procedures Panel, but that
will have to wait until the next newsletter.
President, Californians for Electoral Reform
WILL CALIFORNIA VOTERS PROTECT POLITICAL MINORITIES?
Californians have been tolerant when they have voted on whether or not
to expand voting rights. In 1911, California's male voters voted to
permit women to vote, while most other states said "No" to women's
suffrage. Male voters in Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New
York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota
and Wisconsin all voted against women's suffrage between 1906 and
1915. In November 1974, California voters amended the state
Constitution to permit ex-felons to vote. Proposition Ten, the "Right
to Vote" proposition, also granted the right to vote to mentally ill
persons. It passed in 52 of California's 58 counties. In March 2002,
the voters approved Proposition 43, which added language to the State
Constitution that all valid votes should be counted. It passed in
ROLLING BACK RIGHTS
In our next election, on Nov. 2, we will be asked if we want to roll
back voting rights. The "Voter Choice Open Primary" initiative
(Proposition 62) will ask whether we want to remove minor party
candidates from general election ballots for congressional and state
offices. California's minor parties are cautiously optimistic that the
voters will not take this exclusionary step.
The initiative says that all candidates for Congress and for state
office will run on a single primary ballot in March. The only
candidates who could possibly appear on the November ballot would be
the two highest vote-getters from the March primary.
California used a unified primary ballot - that is, a single primary
ballot that contained all candidates from all parties - in 1998 and
2000. Also, California has used that type of primary in all special
elections since 1967.
In all those elections, the top vote getter from each party advanced to
the November election, so the system in those past elections did not
keep minor party members off the November ballot. But because the
primary used in 1998 and 2000, and in special elections, is the same as
the primary proposed by the new initiative, one can use the results
from those years to predict what will happen if the initiative takes
In all 408 elections in which this type of primary was used, only
Democrats or Republicans ever placed first or second - except in 12
obvious cases when only one major party member was running. Even Audie
Bock, who really was elected to the Legislature in 1999 as a Green, did
not place first or second in her primary. These 408 examples
demonstrate the Voter Choice Open Primary would, in reality, leave
Californians with only Democrats and Republicans to vote for in
HOW ABOUT INDEPENDENTS?
California has more than 600,000 registered minor party members, and the
Voter Choice Open Primary would leave them with no members of their own party to
vote for in November.
Independent candidates would likewise be excluded from the November
ballot. Under the rules for special elections held in California
starting in 1967, independent candidates appear on the special election
primary ballot. Not once has any independent candidate ever placed
first or second. This has not kept independent candidates off the
ballot in special run-off elections, because current law says that all
independent candidates who run in these elections automatically advance
to the run-off.
Under the proposed initiative, only the top two candidates can appear
on the November ballot, so, based on California's historical
experience, all independent candidates would likewise be excluded from
the November ballot.
Some voters may feel that it doesn't matter if minor party or
independent candidates are on the ballot in November or not. Minor
parties seldom win partisan elections. However, minor party campaigns
for office have always been a method by which new political ideas were
introduced to the electorate, and their voter appeal tested. Ideas
that attracted substantial support, over time, then came to be accepted
by the major parties.
The Liberty Party, in 1840, was the first political party to advocate
that slavery be abolished. The idea was so controversial at the time,
Liberty Party candidates were sometimes stopped by mob action from
speaking. However, as support for the Liberty Party grew, so did
support for its principles, until a new major party was formed to stop
the spread of slavery into the territories. That new party, the
Republican Party, displaced one of the older major parties when it
elected Abraham Lincoln in 1860.
Other ideas that were first popularized by minor parties were women's
suffrage, direct election of U.S. senators, worker's compensation,
anti-trust legislation, restrictions on child labor, recognition of
collective bargaining and social security.
The Voter Choice Open Primary also violates the spirit of a law passed
by Congress in 1872, (which requires all states to hold their
congressional elections in November of even-numbered years,) by forcing
minor parties in California to restrict their congressional campaigns
to a period of time far from the autumn campaign season.
Jesse Ventura, Reform Party candidate for governor of Minnesota, only
polled 3 percent of the vote in Minnesota's open primary in September
1998. But then he received public funding, was able to afford TV
advertising and went on to win in November. Under the Voter Choice
Open Primary, he couldn't have been on the November ballot. But
because he was, turnout in Minnesota rose to 60 percent. No other
state in a recent midterm election has had that good a turnout.
Please, vote against the Voter Choice Open Primary in November.
--Richard Winger, editor and publisher of Ballot Access News.
(Californians for Electoral Reform is opposed to Proposition 62.)
SCA 14: THE VOTER EMPOWERMENT AND RESTORE DEMOCRACY AMENDMENT
Senate Constitutional Amendment 14 is The Voter Empowerment and Restore
Democracy Amendment, introduced by State Senator John Vasconcellos
(D-Santa Clara). It is a collection of various reforms, on most of
which CfER has no position. However, it does mandate IRV for all
primary, general, special, and recall elections, as well as for all
Constitutional offices from State Assembly to Governor, and because of
that CfER supports it.
THE OTHER REFORMS IN SCA 14 ARE:
- "Clean Money" public financing of all campaigns;
- a ban against campaign consultants engaging in lobbying;
- non-binding "None of the Above" (NOTA) option on ballots for
- a ban on independent expenditures in elections;
- allowing non-affiliated ("Decline to State") voters to vote in any
- extending term limits to twelve years each in the Assembly and State
- increasing the size of the Assembly and State Senate to at least one
Assembly person for every 300,000 residents, and at least one State
Senator for every 600,000 residents;
- reducing the vote needed to pass the budget from two-thirds to a
- re-assessing business property when 51 percent of the ownership
- reducing the vote needed to raise taxes from two-thirds to 55
- taking redistricting out of the hands of the legislature, and
requiring Assembly districts to "nest" inside State Senate districts.
SCA 14 is designed to be a compromise package; no one is expected to
like everything in it, but the bill's author hopes that most people
will feel that what they like outweighs what they dont like. Many
elements are very controversial, even among CfER members, particularly
the Clean Money provision and reducing the budget vote form two-thirds
to simple majority. Some are of questionable constitutionality; SCA 14
does contain a severability clause, just in case.
In order to get on the ballot, SCA 14 must be passed by a two-thirds
vote in each of the Assembly and the State Senate. It faced its first
hurdle on June 16th, when it was heard in the State Senate Elections
and Reapportionment Committee. It passed out of committee on a
party-line vote, the three Democrats voting in favor, and the two
Republicans not voting. CfER President Steve Chessin did attempt to
testify in favor of the bill, but was interrupted by the committee
chair because time was growing short. The bill goes next to the Senate
Constitutional Amendments Committee, where Steve will get another
opportunity to testify.
Because it requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, if SCA 14
makes it to the ballot at all it will probably be considerably changed
from its present form. The CfER board has decided that it will support
SCA 14 while it is in the legislature as long as it contains IRV, and
will re-evaluate that support if and when it makes it to the ballot. We
are using SCA 14 to learn how bills really make it through the
legislature (or not), and to identify and build relationships with
legislators who support IRV. (For example, the original NOTA language
in SCA 14 was in direct conflict with the IRV language. CfER worked
with the bill's author to resolve the conflict, and supplied draft
language that was used by the Legislative Counsel as a starting point.)
If it does make it to the ballot with the IRV language intact, but with
other provisions that many of our members find objectionable, we might
end up with no position on it at all. But we will have learned what it
will take to get an IRV bill through the legislature.
[Editor's Note: Since this article was written, SCA 14 died in
SANTA MONICA CfER CHAPTER GOING STRONG
Santa Monica Ranked Voting, the Santa Monica chapter of Californians
for Electoral Reform, was formed in January by Julie Walters, a CfER
board member, and Amy Connolly. The group has monthly meetings, and
maintains the only web site dedicated to a CfER chapter. Our focus has
been to promote Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) and Choice Voting for Santa
Monica, and to educate the community about these reforms.
As part of our effort to educate the community, we have spoken to two
neighborhood organizations. We have found neighborhood meetings to be
good places to meet community leaders and politically active people.
We have encouraged these organizations to use ranked voting systems for
their board elections. One of the neighborhood organizations, the
Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Coalition, voted on July 10th with an 80%
majority, to adopt IRV for election of its officers. We have also
spoken to other local groups, such as the Santa Monica chapter of the
League of Women Voters, and the Commission on the Status of Women in
Santa Monica. The former included an article that we wrote about Choice
Voting in their most recent newsletter, The Voter. At our suggestion,
the latter intends to mention Choice Voting when it submits its first
formal report on the status of women to city officials.
Attendees of our meetings have included elected officials, candidates
for office and community leaders. We have also organized mock
elections at public festivals. At the Santa Monica Earth Day festival,
we asked attendees to vote for their Favorite Celestial Object (besides
Earth); at the Santa Monica festival, we asked for ballots for Favorite
Saint (besides Monica). The winners of both elections were determined
with IRV. These events were great for outreach, and also attracted new
members, since we asked voters to give us their email addresses so we
could send them the results.
One major source of publicity for our group has been a study we
performed on recent Santa Monica elections, which showed that voters
often do not cast all votes allotted to them under the current voting
system. A press release we wrote about the study led to articles in
three local papers. Chapters in cities whose officials are elected
at-large may easily conduct a similar study. Details on the study can
be found at our website, www.smrankedvoting.org, under the Breaking
News link. This site has been a crucial part of our outreach effort,
since we can easily refer people to it for meeting times, news, and
ways to get involved.
We are now in the process of launching endorsement lists for supporters
of IRV and Choice Voting in Santa Monica to sign. We will also conduct
candidate surveys before the upcoming City Council elections to assess
the level of support for Choice Voting and IRV among current and
potential council members.
Anyone in the area who is interested in getting involved is encouraged
to visit our website for information and upcoming meeting dates.
--Julie Waters and Amy Connolly
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS SUPPORTS IRV IN CALIFORNIA
The League of Women Voters of California now have a position supporting
Instant Runoff Voting in California for executive offices at the state
and local level. This position came after a two-year study of
alternative election systems by local League organizations throughout
the state of California and after it was discussed and debated at the
state League of Women Voters Convention.
The official position reads:
Support election systems for executive offices, both at the
state and local levels, that require the winner to receive a
majority of the votes, as long as the majority is achieved
using a voting method such as Instant Runoff Voting, rather
than a second separate runoff election.
So if you are working on a local IRV campaign, call the local League of
Women Voters to get involved. This position was used by the LWV
Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville to support IRV in the Berkeley campaign
and the League worked hard on the campaign. Thank you League of Women
For more information contact Paula Lee (paulalee@s...).
CfER LOCAL CHAPTERS AND CONTACTS
East Bay (co-coord) Steve Martinot (510) 845-8634 marto@o...
East Bay (co-coord) Joan Strasser (510) 524-8780 jstrasser@a...
El Dorado County Paula Lee (530) 644-8760 paulalee@s...
Fresno County Ryan Dunning (559) 233-8455 ryan_dunning@h...
Los Angeles Area Casey Peters (213) 385-2786 democracy@m...
Monterey County Nat Lerner (831) 442-1238 natscottl@y...
Sacramento County Pete Martineau (916) 967-0300 petemrtno@b...
San Diego Area Thomas Krouse (760) 603-8220 tkrouse@k...
San Francisco County Thomas Krouse (760) 603-8220 tkrouse@k...
San Mateo County Rob Dickinson (650) 365-6025 robd@p...
Santa Clara County Jim Stauffer (408) 432-9148 jimstauffer@s...
Santa Monica Amy Connolly (805) 252-6110 amyconn@s...
VOICE FOR DEMOCRACY IS PUBLISHED BY
Californians for Electoral Reform
Copyright (c) 2004
All Rights Reserved
P.O. Box 128
Sacramento, CA 95812
The primary purpose of this organization is to promote the
implementation of election methods such as instant runoff voting and
forms of proportional representation.