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Voice for Democracy

Newsletter of Californians for Electoral Reform

Winter 2009

President’s Letter

Good news, bad news, mixed news. Where to begin?

The mixed news is that, while Sequoia Voting Systems' optical scan system was certified to conduct San Francisco's November 2008 IRV elections, it was only approved for that one election, and will need to be recertified to be used in future elections, both in San Francisco and elsewhere. Four of the seven Board of Supervisors races had the IRV algorithm applied, as winners in the other three races achieved an outright majority of first choices. Unfortunately, I write this before San Francisco has released any preliminary IRV results, so I can't tell you if the IRV results were produced without problems or not. (Editorís note: there were no problems.)

The bad news is that voters in Davis rejected the proposal to become a charter city, apparently closing off the possibility of switching to choice voting any time soon. One reason given for the defeat of the charter was that it was too vague, and didn't explicitly mention choice voting. Perhaps advocates will come back with a charter that actually includes choice voting, and nothing else, so that a clear argument in favor of the charter can be made.

The good news is that IRV measures passed overwhelmingly in Memphis, Tennessee (71%) and Telluride, Colorado (67%), increasing by two the number of jurisdictions that use or will use IRV.

Under "none of the above" I will place the passage of Proposition 11. Since CfER took a position of neutrality on Prop 11, I can't call its passage good, bad, or even mixed. However, I personally believe that the passage of Prop 11 is a step towards proportional representation. The Citizens Redistricting Commission will meet for the first time in 2010 to redraw district lines. Those new districts will be used in the legislative elections of 2012. In 2013 the Prop 11 proponents will discover that this new legislature is just as subject to gridlock, lack of competitiveness, and lack of accountability as is the current one, and will realize that changing who draws the lines isn't the solution. At that point I believe they will be ready to seriously consider proportional representation.


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