Voice for Democracy


Newsletter of Californians for Proportional Representation

March-April 2001

Commissions and Conferences

The last two months have seen a flurry of Electoral Reform activity with congressional and state-wide bills for a variety of Electoral Reform Commissions and multi-partisan conferences at various parts of the country on all aspects of Election Reform. We highlight the recent conference in Los Angeles. A National summary is on page 3. Also a call for nominations to the Board is on page two The Editor

L.A. Electoral Reform Conference

by Casey Peters

Over 100 people gathered at Loyola Law School on Saturday, March 24, from noon to 4 p.m. to explore possible changes in American elections.  The event was videotaped for broadcast by Adelphi Communications as well as by JusticeVision.
Pertinent literature was provided by such groups as African American Voter Registration Education and Participation Project, Alliance for Democracy, Asian Pacific Islander American Vote!, Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, California Clean Money Campaign, California IRV Coalition, Californians for Proportional Representation, Center for Voting and Democracy, Global Exchange, Los Angeles Metropolitan Alliance, Pro-Democracy Campaign, Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, Rock the Vote, Sierra Club, etc..

Touch-screen voting machines were exhibited both by Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Conny McCormack, by Voting Solutions Inc., and by Global Systems, showing off an Irish ranked election enumerating candidate preferences by touch-screen voting.
The program was introduced by Loyola Law School Professor Bob Benson, whose reputation precedes him.  Adelphi Communications vice-president Bill Rosendahl, the event moderator, gave an impassioned plea for people to get involved in democratizing our elections. Before the panel was presented, statements for improving the rights of voters in the wake of last year's disturbing miscount in the presidential election were read by Stephen Kaufman, assistant to Congresswoman Maxine Waters an LA election attorney who is heading up the Democratic Congressional Caucus Task Force on Electoral Reform, and Larry Sokol, special assistant to California Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg who wrote AB1515, the current IRV bill. Bill Rosendahl introduced Medea Benjamin, last year's California Green Party nominee for US Senate, and Santa Monica's Green Mayor Mike Feinstein.

The first panelist to speak was Conny McCormack, who related her experiences (noting that while well acquainted with hanging chads, had never heard of dimpled or pregnant chads until after Election 2000).  She expressed an openness to accommodating new elections systems to bring better representation to the voters of Los Angeles County.  Next, John Anderson spoke about how we need to go beyond replacing unreliable voting machines and look at Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation. His eloquence and wit enlivened both the audience and the rest of the panel.  State Assembly Member Robert Pacheco, who is a Republican, spoke about the difficulties of being in a minority party in the legislature, but promoted his bills for electoral reform. Next, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky was sharply critical of the role of the commercial media in distorting fair elections.

Finally, Mark Ridley-Thomas reiterated the argument that African-Americans had been excluded in the 2000 elections. He pled the case for local involvement to empower taxpayers.

If you want to help build the movement for ELECTION REFORMS, please respond by emailing  to kcpeters@ix.netcom.com (see page 3 for other local contacts Editor)

Message from the Presidents

This issue calls for nominations for CPR board.  Administrative activity is not very glamorous but must be done.  Every member should consider running for CPR board and foster member participation and every voice.  Our goal and vision to enhance participatory governance starts at home. 
We want "contested" elections to demonstrate choice voting.  We want diversity of skills.  We want diversity of political parties.  We want racial and gender diversity.  But more important than balance is that your commitment to proportional representation and together as a board we initiate projects, brainstorm tactics, educate ourselves and others, recruit, and encourage. 
We have six bi monthly board meetings including the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and six conference calls.  In consideration of our statewide membership the new board may reduce our board meetings to quarterly.
If you want to further the cause of election reform towards proportional representation please consider running for the CPR Board.  Statements are sent to Steve Willets and requirements are outlined elsewhere in this newsletter. 
It is my pleasure to serve the organization as Co-chair of the Board.  I plan to step aside for new leadership but I will serve as a VP if elected. 

Thank you for your support.

Marda Quon Stothers
Co-Chair, Californians for Proportional Representation



Call for Nominations for the Board of Directors of CPR

We will be electing our nine-member Board of Directors at our Annual General membership meeting in May (see other article).  While I expect
that many of the current Directors will run for re-election, we are always looking for people who want to increase their level of activity
with CPR.  Also, we elect our Board using PR (we practice what we preach!) and PR only works if the election is contested.
The Board itself meets once every two months, for about 3-4 hours each time, in locations set by the Board members.  (This could change, as we
transition to a fully statewide organization.  We could go to an all-day quarterly meeting, or have more meetings via conference call.  It will be up to the new Board to set its meeting schedule and process.)
Board members are encouraged (but not required) to get involved with some area of interest, such as membership development, outreach, communication, chapter coordination, finance, lobbying, or education.
Candidates may be self-nominated.  To nominate yourself, send your name and a statement of up to 250 words to CPR Elections, c/o Steve Willett, 6422 Irwin Court, Oakland, CA  94609.  You may also send your name and statement via email to stevew@initcomp.com.
Nominations and statements must be received by April 14th, 2001, in order to guarantee appearance in the ballots that will be mailed to all
members prior to the AGM.  (If you use US mail, we recommend you mail your statement by April 7th, 2001, to guarantee timely delivery.)
So consider running for the Board.  It's fun, and you get to help set the direction of the PR movement!  Members from Southern California and newly active members are especially encouraged to run.
--Steve Chessin

Reserve these dates!

Saturday, May 12, 2001 - Annual General Meeting of Californians for Proportional Representation and Sunday, May 13 CPR Retreat both in Oakland. Details will come to members with the ballots and on our website

Introducing Cal IRV

by Dave Robinson
This message is intended to bring Cal IRV to the attention of those who didn't know it exists, but would like to. Please look at our web page to learn about the structure and agenda of the group: http://www.calirv.org
Please also read, and subscribe to, our monthly email newsletter at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/InstantRunoffCA-news Questions? You are welcome and encouraged to contact me at dbr (at) Stanford.EDU

South Bay Chapter tabled at the California Libertarian Party convention in San Jose February 17-18.  They passed a by-law
amendment switching their officer elections from multiple-round run-off to instant runoff, and then suspended the rules so they could use IRV in
the current election!  Credit for this goes to Ed Tessier, and Rob Latham.

East Bay activity: Next meeting is Thursday April 25, 7-9 5843 Chabot, call 510-658-3085. We've met with the Berkeley City Clerk to start the IRV feasibility study process with an eye towards her making a report to the council this September. Look for something on the ballot Fall 2002.

Oakland's special election process is underway and will demonstrate touchscreen voting. With measure I's language calling for use of IRV when feasible, this should smooth the way for IRV implementation in the future.


Local Chapters and Contacts


San Diego County Contact is Edward Teyssier, 858-546-1774/email at edward@k-online.com 


Southern California Contact is Casey Peters (213)-385-2786/email at proprep@hotmail.com


Monterey County Contact is Nat Lerner (831)-442-1238/email at natscottl@yahoo.com


South Bay Chapter Contact is Jim Stauffer (408)-432-9148 /email at jstauffer@igc.org


San Francisco Chapter Contact is Betty Traynor (415)-558-8133/email at btraynor@energy-net.org


East Bay Chapter Contact is David Greene (510)-658-3085/email at dmgreene@igc.org (new email)


Sacramento County Contact is Pete Martineau (916)-967-0300/email at petemrtno@aol.com


El Dorado County contact is Paula Lee (530)-644-8760/email at paulalee@jps.net


North Bay Contact is Wayne Shepard (707)-5520-5317/email at paldebits@juno.com


Vice-President of Local Chapters is Rob Latham 510-632-1366 x116/email at freeca@msn.com

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Voice for Democracy is published by Californians for Proportional Representation (prior to May 2000 Northern California Citizens for Proportional Representation). Our web site at http://www.fairvoteca.org may have more current information. Please submit articles or letters for publication to: c/o Nat Lerner, Voice for Democracy, 68 Penzance Street, Salinas, CA. 93906-1339 or e-mail to natscottl@yahoo.com



Nationwide summary from Rob Richie (Director, Center for Voting and Democracy)

It has been an exciting first quarter of 2001! Legislation has been introduced on instant runoff voting in a dozen states and in Congress. Bills on proportional voting systems have been put forward in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois and Congress -- including a new version of the Voters' Choice Act to once again allow states to use proportional voting systems.
We have also joined with other a range of other civic groups to study and advocate improvements to our electoral process a process so clearly exposed as lacking in last year's elections. "Insider" Commissions and task forces have formed to study and propose reforms that will begin with recommendations about new voting equipment and methods of voter education, but are certain to explore more fully the significance of the franchise and how to increase voter participation. The US Senate has just completed two full weeks debating campaign finance reform and is nearing passage of a package. Activists and grassroots reformers are mobilizing around more ambitious reform agendas that prominently highlight proportional representation and instant runoff voting.
June 29th -July 1st there will be a major pro-democracy conference in Philadelphia, with several workshops on proportional representation and instant runoff voting. We have organized 4 regional conferences this year that have cumulatively gathered more than 350 people and are co-sponsors of a May 4th New York City event on proportional representation. We also have generated steady media coverage. Our new articles have appeared this year in numerous publications, including the American Prospect, Tompaine.com, the Southern Regional Council's "Voting Rights Review" and the Progressive magazine, while longer pieces will be in Harvard's Asian American Policy Review and a new book "Challenges to Equality: Poverty and Race in America" (ME Sharpe, April 2001). CVD advisory board members have new books that are remarkable contributions to informed debate about election systems: Douglas Amy's "Behind the Ballot Box: A Citizen's Guide to Voting Systems" (Praeger, 2000) and Kathleen Barber's "A Right to Representation: Proportional Election Systems for the 21st Century" (Ohio State University Press) -- both are available in paperback and essential additions to the bookshelves of election system reformers and scholars.
Perhaps just as importantly, more people with no association with our Center are advocating voting system reform. New articles linked from our website include powerful pieces by Jim Cullen, Lani Guinier, Jim Hightower and Miles Rapoport and powerful newspaper editorials in favor of instant runoff voting from USA Today, the St. Petersburg Times and Trenton Times.
There are important new reports on our site as well, including ones on diversity (and lack thereof) in state and federal legislatures and on competitiveness and turnout (and yes, lack thereof!) in Congressional elections. Find out if your state is among the five (only one with more than three seats) where fewer than half of House seats were won by non-landslide victory margins - and how it ranks in voter turnout, accuracy of how votes translated into seats, representation of women, representation of people of color and more.

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Voice for Democracy


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Sacramento, California 95812