Voice for Democracy Winter 2003
Newsletter of Californians for Electoral Reform

Questionnaires Mailed to California Candidates!

Save the Date
President's Letter
Call for Nominations
San Francisco Report
Sacramento's Fun House Mirror
Local Chapters & Contacts

Save the Date

Mark your calendars now for the CfER Annual General Meeting Saturday
afternoon May 31st.  Also, the CfER Annual Leadership Retreat will be
all day Sunday, June 1st.

More details will be mailed to members in late April or early May.

President's Letter

I've received hate-mail in the past for saying that the struggle for
electoral reform is a marathon, not a sprint, and for comparing it with
that of the suffragists for the right of women to vote.  (That struggle
took 72 years to achieve victory, as measured from that first meeting
in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, to the final ratification of the
19th Amendment in 1920.  Only one of the original signers of the 1848
Declaration of Sentiments was alive to vote in the first presidential
election after ratification.)  Some people want total reform all at
once immediately, and while I admire their passion and enthusiasm, I
just don't think it will happen that quickly.

As I see it, this is a step-by-step process, with victories all along
the way.  I want to share my vision as to how we will achieve full
electoral reform (IRV and PR) in California and the rest of the
nation.  My vision plays out in decades:

2000-2010: The decade of local IRV.
November 2003: San Francisco conducts its first IRV election.
November 2004: Santa Clara and other counties complete the conversion to
IRV-compatible touch screens.
November 2006: Santa Clara County uses IRV for its Board of Supervisors.
November 2008: San Jose uses IRV for its City Council districts.

Also in this decade, Los Angeles City and/or County switch to IRV.
Many other chartered cities with districts (or numbered seats) follow
suit.  Demand builds for a local option bill for general law cities,
which passes.  In the national scene, Vermont adopts IRV for its
statewide elections.

2010-2020: The decade of local PR/statewide IRV.
With voters used to, and enjoying, ranking candidates, chartered cities
that elect at large but are in counties that use IRV switch to Choice
Voting.  (In Santa Clara County, these would include Mountain View and
Palo Alto, perhaps as early as 2010.)

2011: Faced with the nightmare of redistricting, San Jose, San
Francisco, Los Angeles, and other chartered IRV cities switch to Choice
Voting in multi-member districts instead.

IRV adopted for state office special elections (vacancy filling),
primary elections, and/or general elections.  Many other states adopt
IRV as well.

More cities gain experience with PR for council and IRV for mayor.

2020-2030: The decade of statewide PR.
With large-city experience with PR, and faced with 2021 redistricting,
demand builds for PR for at least one house of the state legislature.

2030-2040: The decade of nationwide PR.
With many states using PR for at least one house of their state
legislatures, Congress finally amends 2 USC 2c to allow states to use
PR to elect their Congressional representatives.

So that's my vision.  The only item guaranteed is that San Francisco is
legally bound to use IRV in November 2003.  A bad experience there
could set the time-table back.  A good experience in Vermont could move
it forward.

Finally, I want to end my letter with a note of congratulations.  While
CfER takes no position for or against any candidate, I note that CfER
member Eric Lund won election last November to the Cordova Recreation
and Park District Board in Sacramento county.  The five-member board is
elected at-large for staggered four-year terms, with three seats up
this past cycle.  Eric came in third, behind the two incumbents running
for re-election, but well ahead of the other four challengers for the
one open seat.  (He had 23% more votes than his nearest opponent.)
Congratulations to Eric.  Perhaps he can convince his fellow Board
members that it would be better to elect the Board using proportional

--Steve Chessin
President, Californians for Electoral Reform

Call for Nominations

Call for Nominations.

We will be electing our nine-member Board of Directors at our Annual
General membership meeting in May.  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 CfER.  Also,
we elect our Board using proportional representation (we practice what
we preach!) and PR only works if the election is contested.

The Board itself meets in person every three months, and by conference
call in the in-between months.  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 CfER 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 19th, 2003, 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 12th, 2003, to guarantee timely delivery.)

So consider running for the Board.  It's fun, and you get to help set
the direction of the Electoral Reform movement!  Members from Southern
California and newly active members are especially encouraged to run.

--Steve Chessin
President, Californians for Electoral Reform

San Francisco Report

I don't have a lot to report about San Francisco over the past year
as most of the IRV work to implement it by November 2003 is being done by
Caleb Kleppner and Steven Hill through behind-the-scenes meetings with the
Dept. of Elections and the vendor, etc.  Steve would be the better person to
report on the details.

We will need a lot of public education on IRV for the voters and possibly
the CfER/CPR local could play a role in that with some other bodies, beyond
the Dept. of Elections, such as the League of Women Voters-SF.

I am planning to get some of the San Francisco CfER members together on
the night of January 30 when our illustrious PR author Steven Hill will
be giving a reading of "Fixing Elections" at A Clean Well Lighted Place
for Books in S.F. at the Opera Plaza on Van Ness at 7 pm.  I plan to
send a postcard or e-mail to all S.F. CPR members and invite them to
the reading and to join me (and hopefully Steve) afterwards for snacks
at Max's Opera Cafe next door to the bookstore.  This could give us an
occasion to talk about plans for 2003.

Of course all CfER members are invited January 30 to hear Steve speak.

Betty Traynor
Coordinator for the S.F. CFER Local

Sacramento's Fun House Mirror

Sacramento's Fun-House Mirror: Showing How California's Legislature
Doesn't Closely Represent its Body Politic

By Rob Latham, Board Member and Secretary, Californians for Electoral

"So what?" That could be one of the reactions you may get when
explaining to someone that implementing proportional representation
means that like-minded groupings of voters will win legislative seats
in better proportion to their share of the popular vote than in
winner-take-all elections.

Comparing the percentage of votes received to the percentage of seats
won, by both Democrats and Republicans, from the last six state
legislative general elections in California is one way of showing why
electoral systems matter.

(See http://www.fairvoteca.org/learn/funhouse/ for the full article with
the charts.)

One caveat: different electoral systems call for different electoral
strategies. So, one shouldn't conclude from these charts that had
California used proportional representation in 2000, for example, that
Democrats would have won only 53 percent of the seats in the Assembly
(instead of the 62 percent they did win) and Republicans would have won
43 percent of the seats (instead of the 38 percent they did win).

Still, these charts can help electoral reformers explain what we mean
by a better proportion.

With the exception of 1994 (the year of the so-called "Republican
Revolution"), the voteshares for both Democrats and Republicans in the
state assembly races don't vary by more than four and three percentage
points, respectively.

Q: So why the larger disparity in the state senate races in the 1994,
1998 and 2002 elections?

A: That is how the mapmakers created the even-numbered state senate
districts. The election outcomes in the odd-numbered state senate
districts -- which were held in 1992, 1996 and 2000 -- resulted in a
much better fit, proportionally speaking, between votes and seats.

These charts, and their supporting spreadsheets, are available on
CFER's website and the "CaliPR" Yahoo!  group.

(c) Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Rob Latham for Californians
for Electoral Reform (www.fairvoteca.org).

Local Chapters & Contacts

East Bay		David Greene	(510) 526-5852 dmgreene at igc . org
El Dorado County	Paula Lee	(530) 644-8760 paulalee at softcom . net
Los Angeles Area	Casey Peters	(213) 385-2786 democracy at mail2world .com
Monterey County		Nat Lerner	(831) 442-1238 natscottl at yahoo . com
North Bay		Wayne Shepard	(707) 552-5317 pauldebits at juno . com
Sacramento County	Pete Martineau	(916) 967-0300 petemrtno at bigfoot . com
San Diego Area		Ed Teyssier	(858) 546-1774 edward at k-online . com
SF County		Betty Traynor	(415) 558-8133 btraynor at energy-net . org
Santa Clara County	Jim Stauffer	(408) 432-9148 jimstauffer at sbcglobal .net

Voice for Democracy is published by Californians for Electoral Reform.
Copyright (c) 2003.
All rights reserved.

P.O. Box 128
Sacramento, CA 95812
Phone: (510) 527-8025
E-Mail: info@fairvoteca.org
Web: www.fairvoteca.org

Our Mission Statement...

	The primary purpose of this organization is to promote the
	implementation of election methods such as instant runoff
	voting and forms of proportional representation.