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Voice for Democracy

Newsletter of Californians for Electoral Reform

Fall 2009

CfER Bills Move Forward

Editor's note: Since this article was written, AB 1121 failed to pass the Senate, 19-20, on September 10. AB 308 became a two-year bill on August 27 when the Senate Appropriations Committee did not remove it from its "suspense" file. AB 30 passed and was sent to the Governor on September 10.

There is good news to report on CfER's legislative efforts this year.

AB 1121, authored by Assemblyman Mike Davis and sponsored by CfER, which would allow a dozen general law jurisdictions to use ranked voting systems like IRV and Choice Voting, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee August 17th. It will be heard soon on the Senate floor.

AB 1121 has been improved as it has moved through the Legislature, and much of the recent effort in advance of the Appropriations vote was to find compromise language that would allow jurisdictions more time to use ranked voting as part of this pilot and to guarantee all participating jurisdictions a minimum number of election cycles of usage. Cities and counties will now be able to adopt ranked voting and to participate in this pilot until January, 2019, and will be authorized to use ranked voting until January, 2024. This improvement is significant, and was motivated by feedback from the Secretary of State's office, and was worked out collaboratively with the staff for the Senate Elections Committee.

Please look for an action alert from CfER to help get this bill passed and enacted. The real challenge will be to get the Governor to sign our bill, and we'll need people to push hard to urge a signature.

In other news, AB 308, giving overseas voters an opportunity to use ranked ballots when there may be a runoff election, will be heard in Senate Appropriations at its "suspense" hearing on August 27. This bill has broad bipartisan support -- passing the Assembly floor with 74 votes -- and has not had a single "No" vote cast on it. The challenge in Senate Appropriations is that the bill has a cost of approximately $60,000, which while not significant, is problematic in these difficult financial times for California. CfER feels that this is an issue of fundamental fairness to ensure that overseas voters are not disenfranchised. AB 308 is being moved through the process by board members Bob Richard and Pete Martineau.

AB 30, which is not a CFER bill but one we endorsed, allows 17 year olds to preregister to vote. Voting materials would be sent when they are eligible to vote at 18. This bill was placed on suspense and will also be heard again August 27th as the analysis was generally favorable and the author Senator Curran Price is on the Appropriations Committee.

See the votes and staff analyses for all bills at and look for action alerts for how you can help.

Paula Lee and Rob Dickinson
Executive Vice Presidents

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