Californians for
Electoral Reform
PO Box 128, Sacramento, CA 95812
916 455-8021

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Voice for Democracy

Newsletter of Californians for Electoral Reform

Winter 2006

Presidentís Letter

It's that time of year again, as we gear up for CfER's Annual General Meeting Saturday, May 20th, 1:30pm to 4:30pm (mark your calendars!), where we will be elect≠ing our Board of Directors.  There will be a party afterwards.  The location is still being determined.  (Also mark your calendars for Sunday, May 21st, 9am to 5pm, for the CfER leadership retreat.)  Please see the article on the Board elections on page 5.

We've done a lot this past year to be proud of.  While SB 596 died at the end of January, it got further than any previous proportional representation (PR) bill in Califor≠nia in recent history.  Also, instant runoff voting is slowly becoming mainstream, with uneventful IRV elections in San Francisco and Burlington, VT, and interest increasing up and down the state and around the country.  Even the California Democratic Party now supports IRV.  While the implementation in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties has been slower than we would like, it's clear that it's only a question of when, not if, IRV will be implemented there.

We've also seen a growth in chapter activity around the state, with new chapters in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Humboldt Counties, along with associated activity.  (See the article on the Humboldt Voters Association, and the Chapter Roundtable, on page 6.)

And even as SB 596 died, a new bill was being born. ACA 28 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would establish a California Citizens Assembly (CCA) that would consider changes to how the legislature and statewide officials are elected.  Modeled after the British Columbia, Canada, Citizens Assembly, (BCCA), which chose PR as the best way to elect their legislature, the CCA would consist of 160 ran≠domly chosen Californians (two from each Assembly District) who would study the electoral issues, and would place its recom≠mendations directly on the ballot.  While we can't guarantee that the CCA will come to the same conclusions as the BCCA, we would expect it to find that at least one house of the legislature should be elected using PR, and that IRV should be used everywhere else.

ACA 28 will be the focus of the next CfER house parties (see page 3). If you can't attend one, we at least need you to write or call the members of the Assembly Rules Committee and ask that ACA 28 be assigned to a committee, preferably the Assembly Elections Committee, so that it can get a hearing.  See the Call to Action at the bottom of page 1.

I have another favor to ask; I want you to volunteer to be a poll worker in the June and November elections.  A cooperative Registrar of Voters (RoV) can mean the difference between getting IRV implemented and not getting it im≠plemented.  While some RoVs are amenable to our issues, many are not, but we've discovered that even the ones most opposed to implementing IRV are more willing to hear us out if we've been a poll worker.  Working the polls gives us some insight into the election administration issues that face RoVs every day, insight that can help when discussing im≠plementation issues with your RoV.  Volunteering to work the polls puts us all on the same side, lowering the barriers to the cooperation we will need to see IRV, and eventually choice voting, implemented.  Volunteer to be a poll worker, and over time work your way up from clerk, to precinct inspector, to field inspector.  You'll get to know the RoV staff, and they'll be more likely to give you a fair hearing when you bring up IRV and PR.

Finally, I want to welcome Matt Munson to our Board of Directors.  Our by-laws authorize the nine elected Board members to appoint by unanimous vote additional members, as necessary, who belong to a ballot-qualified party not oth≠erwise represented on the Board.  Matt is a Republican from San Bernardino County who understands and believes in IRV and PR, and will enable us to reach out to constituencies previously difficult for us.  I welcome the perspective he will bring.

Steve Chessin, President

To join CfER, or renew your membership, please visit

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