Voice for Democracy


Newsletter of the Northern California Citizens for Proportional Representation

January-March 1999

1999 - The year for a great resolution

Let us resolve to make 1999 the year that electoral reform begins to be heard on the local, state and national political agenda.

As members of NCCPR, we contribute to the Center for Voting and Democracy on the national stage and directly support city, county and State-wide activities.

            Clearly, the first step in this process is to renew our membership of NCCPR.  To do this,

just respond immediately to the renewal request.

Send your subscription ($25) to: Northern California Citizens for Proportional Representation, c/o Initiative Computing, 6422 Irwin Court, Oakland, CA. 94609


Just for fun - a PR QUIZ


EASY: What are three major benefits of PR?


MEDIUM: What is the definition of PR?


HARD: There have been two elections that the Northern California PR movement

has initiated recently.  When and where were these elections?  What were the

propositions called?  What was the vote?


Answers below


      New year’s Greetings



     NCCPR activists entered 1999 confronted by national paralysis of the Republican and Democratic Parties wrestling each other for ascendency.  They stumble - buffoon-like - around the parameters of the political ring, grasped in chock holds that permit little oxygen to the brain and NO rational thought.  They are holding the country, even the world, in a vaporous thrall.  Are we unable to act till the beasts succumb?

    Of course not!  We must walk on by and not waste our time on this spectacle. We are on the path of electoral reform.  Proportional Representation will offer the country other choices, new values and candidates; at last changing our political purview.

     The NCCPR has been hard at work creating this path.  We are devising a second, more succinct, "Proportional Representation: Qs and As" brochure to be used in situations where people do not need as much information as contained in the original.

     In San Francisco, the NCCPR local is working with the San Francisco Electoral Reform Coalition to introduce legislation this November calling for Instant Run-off Voting for all single seat elections.

     We are networking with various organizations from the CA National Organization for Women to the Unitarian Universal church to introduce PR and IRV and educate the membership.

     Jim Lindsay is holding training sessions for activists throughout Northern California on "PR basics" and "Speaker development."  Training will continue throughout the year with more topics and training leaders. 

            Do check out our website at http://fairvotencal.org.  See the article in this issue of the newsletter describing what's available at the site (page two)

     Remain part of this crucial work!  Keep up your membership and actively work with NCCPR members in your area.  Do not return to the spectator sport of  "politics-as-usual, version 1999."  Stay on this path which will provide CHOICE for our country!  Have the two behemoths expired yet?


Barbara Blong and Betty Traynor, Co-Presidents, NCCPR.


What’s happening in your neck of the woods by Jim Lindsay, V.P. Local Chapters




The San Francisco chapter continues to work on promoting IRV.  And it seems that their work is beginning to bear fruit.  Tom Ammiano, the President of the Board of Supervisors says that IRV is a "no-brainer," and wants it on the ballot this November.  Very exciting.  Call Coordinator Wayne Shepard for more info (415/681-2580, pauldebits@juno.com).


Alameda County CPR is investigating a campaign for IRV in Berkeley, PR for the Berkeley Rent Board, or IRV for Oakland.  With Steve Hill (CVD's West Coast Coordinator) making high level contact, a very powerful community group called ACORN has expressed interested in pursuing democratic reforms like IRV. We've look at other interesting possibilities, but narrowed it down to these 3 for the short term.  Contact Dave Greene (510/841-6761, david@diana.lbl.gov) or Jim Lindsay (510/527-8025, jimlindsay@jerel.com) for info.


Jim Stauffer (408/432-9148, jstauffer@igc.org) has committed to organizing a new chapter in Santa Clara County.  Ray Yahr (707/833-6996, ryahr@vanstar.com) will be organizing a new chapter in Sonoma County.  Both plan to have made substantial progress within a couple of months.


Contact me at 510/527-8025 or jimlindsay@jerel.com, if you'd like to co-coordinate or you have ideas on how to get a chapter started in your area.

Jim Lindsay,  VP, Local Chapters


NCCPR Website Needs Visitors!  by Steve Willett


As the "webmeister" of the Northern California CPR website I would like to encourage CPR members and friends to visit the site to see what's there and to give us some feedback about what you find.


If you haven't visited us yet we can be reached by pointing your favorite web browser at

"http://fairvotencal.org".  The site has much material on it about Proportional Representation, Choice Voting, and other related topics.  Some of the things you will find there include:


·    information about CPR, the organization, including short bios of the members of CPR Board

A list of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about PR and alternative voting mechanisms

A glossary of terms related to voting systems

 information about 1996's unsuccessful "Prop. H" campaign in San Francisco and 1998's successful "Prop F" campaign in Santa Clara County.

links to other PR web sites around the world

a page for PR activists containing resources to help you talk about and campaign for voting reforms.


Coming soon is a calendar of events of interest to CPR activists, in which we will announce upcoming events and report on past events.


We are most interested in hearing what you think of the site.  If you want to contribute material for the site, by all means do so!  Please e-mail me, Steve Willett, (or my professional alter ego, Initiative Computing) at "icinfo@initcomp.com" with your material, your comments on the site, or suggestions of what you would like to see added.




- lessons to be learned

(This is an abbreviated version of an article by Steve Chessin submitted on 1/10/1999)

There were two phases to Measure F.  The first was the Charter Review process, getting the County to put some electoral reform measure on the ballot.  The second was the campaign to get it passed. Final results:

Yes157,223 (53.9%) No 134,248 (46.1%)




- Used an experienced, well-known, credible point person.

- Went to every CRC meeting (except one), both evening and day-time, and to every Governance Subcommittee meeting

- Got my Supervisor to get me on the "full packet" mailing list.

- Did not fight the Governance Subcommittee when they rejected PR as "too complicated" but were willing to consider IRV.

- Sought advice from a Supervisor staff person on how to work with the CRC.  .

- Supplemented the consultant's report with campaign expense data he was not willing to supply.

- Worked with the CRC on resolving the cost-of-upgrade issue.

- Lobbied each Supervisor (through their staff) when the CRC decided to recommend IRV.

- Asked at least three people to attend the Supervisor's public hearing since I couldn't; one showed

- When asked to draft the ballot argument by the CRC Chair, got help from other NCCPR members with it.

- Got appointed as an Advisory Board Member of the Center for Voting and Democracy, so I could use that in signing the ballot argument.  The CVD affiliation also increased credibility with the media.

- Helped the County Counsel with the Impartial Analysis, by providing her with a first draft, and reviewing and responding to all her subsequent drafts.

- Got the Libertarian Party to publically rebuke their chair for signing the argument against, and used that in the rebuttal to it. - Put a phone number in the rebuttal.

- Ran a free advertisement every week in the alternative weekly "messages" section.

- Sought (and received) endorsements from well-known people and organizations, as well as from newspapers.  Got balanced endorsements and organizations included us in their slate mailers.

- Got www.smartvoter.org to link to our web site.



- Did not have the definition of IRV in the charter amendment itself

- Waited until the ballot arguments were finished before going for endorsements, which meant we were too late for some organizations.

- Did not respond to the rejected argument against, when we could have possibly defused that person and prevented his later blind-side attacks.


Lots of “should have” s

 ---:Should have contacted a political consultant for advice early in the game;contacted the paid slate mailer people earlier so we might have gotten on some of their mailers; had people do more letters to the editor; organized some postcard campaigning; organized better email campaigning; tried to get on KPFA, where they allow one-sided discussions; done some targeted phoning of likely voters from Green, Libertarian, and Democratic parties; gotten more people involved.


WHERE WE WERE LUCKY: Chuck Reed (CRC chair) liked it!  The San Jose Mercury News (major daily newspaper) chose to endorse us.


WHERE WE WERE UNLUCKY: The Registrar of Voters spoke against us at the Supervisor's public hearing. The San Jose Metro (local alternative weekly) chose to oppose us.



EASY: What are three major benefits of PR?

Here are 6 benefits -- you answered correctly if you got three of them:

·    Provides for majority rule with fair minority representation.

Gets rid of gerrymandering.

Would open up the system to alternative parties.

Would greatly reduce the effect of big money on elections.

Would result in more positive election campaigns.

More and better candidates would run for office.


MEDIUM: What is the definition of PR?

Proportional Representation (PR) means using an election system in which the final results of the election are in proportion to how people voted.  So if a party won 40% of the vote, they would win 40% of the seats, while if they won 10% of the vote, they would win 10% of the seats.


HARD: There have been two elections that the Northern California PR movement

has initiated recently.  When and where were these elections?  What were the

propositions called?  What was the vote?

·    In November of 1996, Proposition H would have established PR for San Francisco. It lost  44-56%, but garnered almost 100,000 votes in just a three month campaign.

In November of 1998, Measure F was on the ballot in Santa Clara County. It won, 54-46%.  It allows IRV to be used, when the Board of Supervisors decides they want to use it.  The measure states that it is only in effect once they upgrade their election equipment to equipment that can handle IRV.


Voice for Democracy is published by Northern Californians for Proportional Representation.

Our web site at http://fairvotencal.org has more up-to-date information. Please submit articles/letters for publication to: c/o Nat Lerner, Voice for Democracy, 68 Penzance Street, Salinas, CA. 93906 or e-mail to NL0916@sprynet.com.




Voice for Democracy

Northern California CPR

P.O. Box 128

Sacramento, California 95812