Voice for Democracy


Newsletter of Californians for Proportional Representation

September-October 2001


New York and Beyond!


      The events of September 11th have left most of us in a state of shock from which we have not all recovered.  Our hearts go out to the victims and survivors, and to their families and loved ones.  I know our members will have different views of the current military action.  I hope you each communicate your views to your elected representatives.
      You may have heard that the attacks required that New York City suspend its mayoral primary.  That election was rescheduled and did take place.  Their rules require that each winner receive at least forty per cent of the vote; if not, a runoff takes place between the top two vote-getters.  (In other words, they use a modified Two Round Runoff system, where the threshold in the first election is forty per cent instead of the usual fifty per cent plus one vote.)
      This is what happened in the Democratic primary.  No one received over 40% on September 25th, so Mark Green and Fernando Ferrer faced off on October 11th, in a second expensive election.  If you have friends or family in New York City, especially if they voted in the Democratic primary runoff election, you might speak to them about the advantages of Instant Runoff Voting.  New York City already uses Choice Voting (and thus ranked ballots) for their school board elections, so switching to a ranked IRV ballot for their mayoral primaries should be fairly easy. (In case you're wondering, Mark Green won, and will face Republican Michael Bloomberg, Conservative Terrance Gray, Liberal Alan Hevesi, Green Julia Willebrand, Libertarian Kenny Kramer, and Working Families Kenneth Schaeffer in November.)
      Closer to home, there is legislation pending in Congress that we need you to support.  Elsewhere in this newsletter you will find an article that explains the legislation, and pre-printed postcards for mailing to Senator Feinstein and your Congressional Representative.  Please read the article, sign and mail the postcards, and let us know what sort of response you receive. 

       Letting your elected officials know of your interest in proportional representation and instant runoff voting is a small but significant step in making them a reality.

--Steve Chessin, President, Californians for Proportional Representation



ACTION ALERT:  Got postage? Send a postcard!

      We would like to call your attention to four bills currently in Congress that would bring us closer to implementing Proportional Representation and Instant Runoff Voting. We ask that you take a few minutes to send your representatives the postcards enclosed in this newsletter (hardcopy only) that request them support and co-sponsor these bills.
      Please remember that opportunities to pass legislation friendly to our cause are infrequent. As such, it is that much more important to take advantage of this current opportunity. We ask you to support CPR, and the cause of better voting systems by sending the postcards today.
      The four bills are summarized below. Three are in the House and one is in the Senate. Please note that Senator Boxer is already a co-sponsor of the Senate bill, so it is a higher priority to write to Senator Feinstein. However, you may want to send Senator Boxer a "thank you" note.

All Congress people can be reached with this generic address:
Hon. ______________
US House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20515


All Senators can be reached with this generic address:
Hon. ______________
United States Senate
Washington, DC  20510


For those with Web access, you can find your Congressional representatives's contact information at: http://www.house.gov and senators’ information at http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index.cfm.

Thanks for your support.


Bills in the House of Representatives
          HR 57; Federal Elections Review Commission Act  Establishes a commission to investigate our election process. Specifically mentions Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation. Referred to the House Committee on House Administration on 1/3/2001. California Co-sponsors: Rep Baca, Joe; Rep Eshoo, Anna G.;Rep Filner, Bob ; Rep Pelosi, Nancy; Rep Roybal-Allard, Lucille; Rep Lantos, Tom; Rep Lee, Barbara; Rep Farr, Sam.

H. R. 1189; Voters' Choice Act - Would allow states to use Proportional Representation in multi-seat races. Recommends the use of Instant Runoff Voting to elect a state's electoral college
for President and Vice President. Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary on 3/22/2001. Referred to House Judiciary on 3/22/2001. Referred to House Administration on 3/22/2001. California co-sponsors: Rep Sanchez, Loretta .

HR 506; Congress 2004 Commission Act - To establish a commission to make recommendations on the appropriate size of membership of the House of Representatives and the method by which Representatives are elected. Specifically mentions Proportional Representation. Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary on 2/7/2001. Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution on 2/23/2001. No California co-sponsors.


Bill in the Senate
        S. 953; Voting Procedures Commission and Modernization bill - Establishes an Election Administration Commission and provides
grants to modernize voting equipment. Referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration on 5/24/2001. California co-sponsors: Sen Barbara Boxer.


Voting Equipment Bill and Reports

At the September 22nd Board meeting, the CPR Board endorsed California Bill AB 56, the Voting Modernization Act of 2001, which will appear on the ballot in March 2002 with the governor's signature.

Cal Tech and UC Berkeley have both published analyses of voting equipment. They can be found at: http://ucdata.berkeley.edu and




Redistricting - still a hot issue


The October 11 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle had an excellent article by Mark Simon entitled, ”Asians lose a voice in new districts/Reapportionment divides and conquers” The original article can be found at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2001/10/11/MN85341.DTL

The article ends “It's time we stopped letting reapportionment define our politics for us.
It's time our politics were smart enough to reflect what we've become.”

Clearly, this article and similar ones throughout the State provide us with great opportunities to reply explaining that PR is THE solution to the redistricting dilemma faced by various communities and communities of interest statewide!

Additionally,  the title ‘Reapportionment divides and conquers’  would be a great slogan (as Dave Robinson pointed out)  Maybe we can develop a logo or cartoon based on this? (Any suggestions?)


San Francisco Initiative for March 2002

IRV Campaign Kickoff - November 17


The Campaign to promote the IRV initiative for San Francisco will start on Saturday, November 17th at 10am.

We’ll meet at Arriba Juntos, 1850 Mission Street between 14th and 15th, park in the lot to the left of the building. From 16th St. BART walk 1.5 blocks north (it’s the building on the left) (Muni buses #14 and 49).

Caleb Kleppner writes: “We are planning a campaign kickoff in SF. We'll do a little  bit of training and discussion and then send people out to walk precincts and table.” In addition to the CPR web site, you can find information on the initiative and the campaign at CalIRV’s site at http://www.calirv.org


North Bay Chapter update

WIth a charter review pending in Santa Rosa, we searched around for active members and were reminded that there are some.

Wayne Shepard writes “For the newsletter, you might include that the North Bay Chapter (what there is of it) tabled this summer at the Booneville Activefest and at the Petaluma Progressives annual event.  We aren't quite as dead up here as some people think!”

South Bay Chapter report

            The South Bay / Peninsula chapter is putting its efforts into implementing IRV in Santa Clara County, and is doing its part in supporting legislation that is conducive to PR and IRV (please use the enclosed postcards).

IRV enabling legislation was passed by the Santa Clara voters in 1998, thanks to the diligent efforts of CPR President Steve Chessin. But implementation must wait for the punch card voting equipment to be upgraded with equipment that accommodates ranked ballots. The County has been inching towards this for several years. But now the CA Secretary of State, Bill Jones, has de-certified our Votomatic punch card system leaving the county no choice but to upgrade. IRV is getting closer!!!!

In San Mateo County, CPR member Linden Hsu is running for Belmont City Council. His platform includes, naturally, PR and IRV.

Jim Stauffer, (408) 432-9148  jstauffer@igc.org



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


Co-Vice-Presidents of Local Chapters are Jim Stauffer (408)-432-9148 /email at jstauffer@igc.org

and Betty Traynor (415)-558-8133 /email at btraynor@energy-net.org



Do you want the eNewsletter?

Send your name and e-mail address to membership@fairvoteca.org if you wish to receive this newsletter by e-mail instead of on paper. (This will save us time and cost and you will get your newsletter quicker)




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://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


East Bay News

The more progressive redistricting plan for the Berkeley City Council was approved by the City Council for the 2002 elections. Berkeley's city charter is similar to that of San Francisco, except that only a 45 percent vote is required to avoid a runoff in Berkeley, whereas a 50.1 percent vote is required in San Francisco, for Mayor and City Council.   Whoever loses a redistricting battle might want to do a PR initiative campaign for charter amendment.    Peter J. A. Gaposchkin.


How the Germans do it! (Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) Voting)

This is the last of three brief articles on the three main types of Proportional Representation showcasing the historical/cultural environment where they occurred as well as the technical background of the specific type of PR.        

In 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was being formed in the part of occupied Germany controlled by France, Great Britain and the USA. Britain and the USA wanted the Germans to use the single member district winner-takes-all system that they were familiar with, while the French and the Germans were more familiar with the List form of PR.  The compromise was a new form of PR called MMP. Each voter has two votes. The first vote is for a district representative using first past the post as in Britain and the USA. The second vote is for a Party list as described in the first article. Half the seats are allocated to representatives from districts and the other half come from the Party lists and are known as ‘list representatives’. The list representatives are allocated to each party so as to make the total of district and list seats for each party to be in proportion to the list votes each party receives. If a party has 10% of the list vote and no district representatives, they would get all their representatives from the party list. If a party has 60% of the district representatives (i.e. 30% of the total) and has a list vote of 40%, they would get an additional 10% from the party list. This ‘top up’ of district representation is what makes MMP different from hybrid semi-PR systems and a true proportional system. In 1996, New Zealand held its first MMP election and since then, MMP has been used for regional elections in Scotland and Wales and with some variations in some former Soviet Bloc countries.

(For more information, go directly to the CVD information page at http://www.fairvote.org/pr/intro.htm )





Voice for Democracy


P.O. Box 128

Sacramento, California 95812