Here is the electronic version of the newsletter that was snail-mailed
last month. I apologize for its delay.
President, Californians for Electoral Reform
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can
change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
VOICE FOR DEMOCRACY
Newsletter of Californians for Electoral Reform
IN THIS ISSUE:
Save The Dates
Instant Runoff Voting Triumphs In Berkeley
Update On AB1039
CfER Local Chapters And Contacts
SAVE THE DATES: The Annual General Meeting of Californians for
Electoral Reform will be Saturday May 22nd, 1:30pm to 4:30pm at the
Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge Street (at Shattuck). There
will be a party in the evening. The Leadership Retreat will be all day
Sunday May 23rd. Details will be in the election mailing, which will
be sent to all members. (If you are behind in your dues, you will need
to pay them in order for your vote to be counted.)
We have a lot of catching up to do. We haven't produced a newsletter
in almost a year, and I apologize for the delay.
Part of the problem has been that we haven't had someone in charge of
content. We do now, and I'd like to introduce Laurel Palomares, our
Newsletter Content Editor. Forrest Crumpley continues as our
Newsletter Publisher. (I had been acting as content editor but doing a
very poor job of it.)
So let me now bring you up to date on electoral reform activity around
the state and nation.
Thanks to the efforts, educational and otherwise, of the East Bay
chapter, the City of Berkeley passed an IRV enabling charter amendment
this March by an overwhelming majority of 72%! This is a very
important victory, as we now have three cities in Alameda County
(Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro) calling for the use of IRV. See
Kenny Mostern's article for the amazing details.
San Francisco is on track to use IRV this November. As you may recall,
it was supposed to use IRV last November, and our members lobbied the
Board of Supervisors and the Secretary of States office to try to make
that happen. We even raised money for a lawsuit to force the City to
use IRV. Unfortunately, we ran into a perfect storm. The Secretary of
State's office had yet to certify the equipment for IRV, and denied
certification to the fall-back partial hand-count procedure. The
surprise recall election placed an unexpected burden on the Elections
Department, and the judge ruled that, while technically illegal, he
would let San Francisco use its two-round runoff system one last time.
The good news is that all parties (the Elections Department, the
vendor, and the Secretary of State's office) made good progress towards
having the equipment certified in time for next November's election.
The certification hearing was held April 8th, and the equipment was
Thanks to the persistence of our own Paula Lee, the League of Women
Voters of California now has a position supporting IRV that can be used
by any local League as well. We'll have an article about this in a
The California Democratic Party added language to its platform calling
for an exploration of alternative voting systems, including IRV. This
is a major change in their position; previously they had rejected IRV
and PR out of hand.
State Senator John Vasconcellos has introduced SCA 14 in order to cure
some of the problems affecting California. Among the many reforms it
includes is IRV for all state offices from Assembly to Governor. CfER
has endorsed SCA 14, and we will be working with Senator Vasconcellos
to fine-tune the language. We will also see if we can get at least
enabling language for PR for the legislature as well.
Speaking of PR for the legislature, on New Year's Day the Sacramento
Bee published its own list of suggested reforms, including a 300-member
unicameral legislature, with at least some of the members elected using
PR to solve the dual problems of gerrymandering and uncompetitive
On the national scene, two of the Democratic Presidential candidates,
former front-runner Howard Dean and contender Dennis Kucinich, had
publically endorsed IRV during their campaigns. Kucinich also called
for PR. Ralph Nader's entry into the race is raising the visibility of
the need for IRV.
Also nationally, all five Pacifica Radio stations, including KPFA in
Berkeley and KPFK in Los Angeles, used Choice Voting to elect their
Local Station Boards this year. I believe this is the largest use of
PR by an organization in the United States. Over 15,000 voters used
and returned their ranked choice ballots. (Over 95,000 were mailed
Turning back to internal matters, we had an excellent Annual General
Meeting last May. San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Matt
Gonzalez gave a great keynote speech on election reform. The meeting
Also at the AGM we elected our new Board. Rob Latham (who has moved to
Utah and is doing great work there) and Larry Shoup did not run for
re-election. Dave Kadlecek, Paula Lee, Pete Martineau, Casey Peters,
Dave Robinson, Marda Stothers, and I were all re-elected. New board
member Thomas Krouse was elected for the first time, and we welcome the
new blood he brings to the Board. Last but not least, founding
President Jim Lindsay was also elected, and we welcome him back; his
leadership was sorely missed.
New officers were later chosen: I continue as President, Paula Lee as
Executive Vice President, and Marda Stothers as Treasurer. Dave
Robinson is our Secretary, and Dave Kadlecek is Chief Financial
Our next AGM will be May 22nd; save the date!
We are still looking for people who want to help with maintaining the
web site, recruiting new members, and coordinating volunteers. If you
would like to assist in any of these tasks, please contact me at
650-962-8412 or via info@c... We'd also like to know more about
our members, so please fill out the membership survey and mail it back
Finally, we haven't been dropping members in arrears because we haven't
been sending out the newsletter. If you haven't renewed because you
hadn't heard from us and thought we had gone inactive, please renew.
If you can't find your renewal, go to our website (www.cfer.org; note
the new URL) and click on the "join" link. As you can see we're very
active and we need your support.
President, Californians for Electoral Reform
INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING TRIUMPHS IN BERKELEY
The Yes on Measure I: IRV For Berkeley campaign won a dramatic victory
in Berkeley, California, capturing 72% of the vote in the March 2, 2004
election. From the start, we believed that 50.1% was not an adequate
goal for our campaign. This is because implementation of IRV requires
administrative approval at the County level, where the Registrar of
Voters has been resistant to reform. By striving for and achieving
such a resounding victory, we have paved the way for greater democracy
throughout Alameda County.
STALWART PARTICIPANTS IN THE CAMPAIGN
Our high profile campaign was made possible primarily through the
efforts of four organizations and three City Councilors. Members of
the League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville,
Californians for Electoral Reform, and the Green Party of Alameda
County formed the core group that began meeting in early December to
discuss the campaign. At the same time, the Center for Voting and
Democracy came through with the seed money to hire a professional
campaign manager. This gave the campaign the staff time to
aggressively raise more money, to pay for professional design, and to
create a plan for getting the message out to the entire city.
Additionally, a fifth group, the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club,
played an especially important role providing volunteer help in the
final weeks of the campaign.
While having a Campaign Manager was useful, we could not have triumphed
without the incredible energy of our volunteer Steering Committee and
our extensive list of volunteer workers. Individuals who require
specific mention include:
* Councilmembers Dona Spring, Mim Hawley, and Kriss Worthington
contributed endorsements and some combination of fundraising lists
and time to the campaign.
* Nancy Bickel, President of the League of Women Voters, and John
Selawsky, Green Party County Councillor and President of the Berkeley
School Board, did terrific jobs as Campaign Spokespersons.
* Jack-of-all-trades and Campaign Co-Coordinator Dave Heller put in
countless hours literally doing whatever needed to be done, both
professional and menial.
* Jim Lindsay announced he did not have time to be Volunteer
Coordinator, had his arm twisted, and performed above the call of
* Budd Dickinson kept a firm, economically conservative eye on the
Treasury, putting in many more hours than he had planned because he
had not believed we would be able to raise as much money as we did!
Others far too numerous to list contributed their time in large and
small ways, and we are grateful to every single person who
The successful San Francisco campaign of 2002 gave our campaign its
first important message: runoffs are bad. In our graphics, on our
website, and in our public statements we always emphasized that
citywide December runoffs cost 0,000, while they have 28% lower
turnout than November elections.
However, the peculiarities of Berkeley led us to also develop two other
key messages. First, the activists in this campaign wanted a positive
spin on IRV, not merely a negative spin on runoffs. As a result, our
campaign slogan became "Cut Costs, Expand Democracy." The second half
of that slogan allowed us to laud the advantages of having majority
winners, having more people enter elections, and having positive
issue-based campaigns because candidates need to appeal to each other's
voters and therefore can't attack each other.
Second, at my urging, the campaign dared to use the "Ralph Nader would
have gotten 5% AND Al Gore would have been President" argument. There
are key reasons why this was the right argument for Berkeley in 2004,
reasons that are not applicable to other cities or perhaps even to
other years in Berkeley: (1) Berkeley has an overwhelming number of
Democrats, many of whom consider themselves Progressives; (2) Greens
outnumber Republicans in the city; and (3) the motivating force for
voter turnout this election was the Democratic Primary, in which
Berkeley voters would overwhelmingly be people thinking about how to
defeat George W. Bush. I believe the campaign's success vindicates
this controversial strategy. At the same time, I would not recommend
repeating this in most places without very clear poll numbers showing
that it would be effective.
Finally, it is important to mention that we refused to downplay the
fact that we actually want to implement IRV. Resisting the temptation
to say "this measure only permits IRV, it does not implement it," we
made the conscious decision to sell IRV's advantages and ask people to
come out in favor. We believe that when you say "well, this only
allows us to consider IRV as one possibility," there is the appearance
of a certain bait and switch that creates suspicion in the voter's
mind. Since all the individuals and groups working on the campaign
actually advocate IRV, not the further study of IRV, it made sense to
us to say that forthrightly.
The campaign plan made in mid-December, after the hire of the Campaign
Manager, called for a low-ball budget of ,900 and a high-end budget
of ,700, and suggested how the campaign could cope at each end.
Happily, we raised over ,000, allowing us to spend nearly ,000 on
print materials, to send a mailing to permanent absentee voters, and to
pay for all our professional staffing needs. Of this, the Center for
Voting and Democracy was at 00 by far our largest contributor;
however, all the organizations at the center of the campaign
contributed both money and lists or events at which we could raise
The primary means we got the word out in this campaign was through
Saturday morning precinct mobilizations, which were for seven
consecutive weekends from January 17 to February 28. Averaging around
20 precinct walkers per week, we succeeded in hand delivering nearly
25,000 pieces door to door. With an additional absentee mailing of
4818, this means that nearly 30,000 voters, a number larger than
actually voted in this election, received materials from us.
In addition, the campaign ran a successful phone bank the last two
weekends, dropped thousands of pieces at cafes and laundromats, and had
more than a dozen people posted at public transportation hubs and
supermarkets in the last four days of the election. The worst thing
you can say about our field plan is that due to the lateness in
collecting the money we needed, we ordered our lawn signs too late. Of
course, Dave Heller came through as always, personally posting 100 of
the 150 signs we managed to put up throughout the city in the last four
days of the campaign.
Of course, IRV is not implemented by this measure, and it could still
take several years to get it implemented, so electoral reform advocates
have much to do.
In Alameda County we face a Registrar of Voters who has repeatedly
expressed his opposition to implementing IRV. As a result, we need to
exert substantial political pressure on the Registrar, to the point he
understands that either he moves forward with the will of the people,
or his job may be at stake. This is why achieving our 72% is such a
Immediately, we need a majority of the County Board of Supervisors
(three members) who will bring the issue to the fore. Berkeley's
representative, Keith Carson, is already signed on as an advocate of
IRV. Two other cities in the County, Oakland and San Leandro, already
allow for IRV elections in their charters, and the three cities
together represent nearly half the population of the County. As a
result, our immediate strategy needs to be to approach the other County
Supervisors, and ask them to move forward.
If we are able to attain the support of three county supervisors, and
to point to the certification of San Francisco's voting equipment as a
model for moving forward with the equipment in Alameda County, we
believe it will then be smooth sailing to actually implement IRV in
Berkeley, perhaps even by the 2006 elections.
UPDATE ON AB1039
AB1039 would have allowed general law cities to use alternative
election systems to elect their representatives. Currently, only
charter cities can adopt alternative systems, by amending the city
charter with voter approval. AB1039, unfortunately, is dead. While it
received support from the League of California Cities, it was opposed
by the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO),
and that killed it. CACEO opposed AB1039 primarily for two reasons: it
did not define the terms cumulative voting (CuV), limited voting (LV),
choice voting (ChV), and instant runoff voting (IRV), and it left the
implementation of those systems to the Secretary of State's office. In
contrast, the Elections Code goes into great detail as to how to
conduct an election using first-past-the-post, two-round runoff, and
block vote (the name for a plurality election that elects more than one
winner, as in an at-large election for city council): the layout of the
ballot, the instructions to voters, even how to count the ballots and
how to resolve ties.
CACEO wanted to see similar language for IRV, LV, CuV, and ChV, and we
are working on a bill that does just that. (It is forty pages long and
counting, compared to the half-page of AB1039, but that is what is
required.) We showed an early draft to the chair of CACEO's Election
Legislation Committee, who approved of our approach, and we plan to
meet with their full committee this spring.
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...
Los Angeles Area Casey Peters (213) 385-2786 democracy@m...
Santa Monica Amy Connolly (805) 252-6110 amyconn@s...
Monterey County Nat Lerner (831) 442-1238 natscottl@y...
North Bay Wayne Shepard (707) 552-5317 pauldebits@j...
Sacramento County Pete Martineau (916) 967-0300 petemrtno@b...
San Diego Area Thomas Krouse (760) 603-8220 tkrouse@k...
San Francisco County Betty Traynor (415) 558-8133 btraynor@r...
Santa Clara County Jim Stauffer (408) 432-9148 jimstauffer@s...
San Mateo County Rob Dickinson (650) 365-6025 robd@p...
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.
We'd like to know more about you; what political party you're
affiliated with, what your level of interest is in the electoral reform
movement, what skills you have and are willing to contribute to the
cause. Please take a few minutes to fill this out and send it back to
us. Feel free to leave blank anything you don't want to tell us.
When you've finished, please return it to:
Californians for Electoral Reform Membership Survey
P.O. Box 74596
Los Angeles CA 90004
Or email to democracy@m...
President, Californians for Electoral Reform
city state zip
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CALIFORNIA VOTER REGISTRATION:
 Decline to State  American Independent  Democrat  Green
 Libertarian  Natural Law  Peace and Freedom  Reform
 other (please identify)____________________
 registered in other state (please identify)__________________
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PRIMARY INTEREST IN ELECTORAL REFORM:
 IRV  proportional representation  both
 other (please explain)__________________________________________
LEVEL OF ACTIVITY DESIRED (check all that apply):
 hosting house parties  study group on election systems
 writing letters to editors  writing letters to legislators
 lobbying legislators
 local chapter activity
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 other (please explain)__________________________________________
SKILLS FOR ELECTORAL REFORM (check all that apply):
 fundraising  web-building  email list-serve moderator
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 newsletter editing  writing  graphic design/layout
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 public speaking  speakers bureau operation  press relations
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OTHER ORGANIZATIONAL AFFILIATIONS/OFFICES
GENERAL COMMENTS ON CALIFORNIANS for ELECTORAL REFORM: