Voice for Democracy


Newsletter of Californians for Proportional Representation

May-June 2000

California – Here we come!


May 20th, 2000 Oakland, California

At the Annual General Meeting of the Northern California Citizens for Proportional Representation held in Oakland today, the results were announced on the issue of the name of our organization. Despite a quite lively debate in which all arguments were presented and the casting of about a dozen ballots immediately after the debate, there finally was an overwhelming support for the name “Californians for Proportional Representation” (CPR).


The results were as follows.






Californians for Electoral Reform





Californians for Proportional Representation





FairVote California





Northern California Citizens for Proportional Representation






The name change will allow us to speak for all PR activists in the Golden State as well as providing a logical organizational framework for our fellow PR activists in Southern California. How we will spread our message south of Monterey County will be a new and exciting challenge for all of us over the next months and years. The name debate was the subject of a letter from Wilma Rule (see page 2).

In addition to the debate on the name change, several candidates for the Board were present and answered some brief questions. The nine (out of 12) that were elected were: Steve Chessin, Baraba Blong, Richard Winger, Paula Lee, Pete Martineau, Marda Stothers, Dave Kadlecek, Rob Latham and David Greene. The new Board confirmed the officers for the coming year as Marda Stothers and Steve Chessin as co-Presidents, Richard Winger as Secretary and David Kadlecek as Treasurer. Small workshops were held at the AGM – a taste of what we can expect at The 2nd Annual Retreat for PR activists. See page 4 for more details.


FEMINIST EXPO 2000, BALTIMORE,  3/31 – 4/2  2000  by Barbara Blong (former co-President)

As part of my activist tour of the East Coast this spring, my first stop was Baltimore and the Feminist Expo 2000.  Rob Richie, President of the Center for Voting and Democracy (CVD), picked me up and took me directly to the Baltimore Convention Center to set up our CVD booth (there were some 700 booths in different stages of readiness.)  That night I stayed with Rob, his wife Cindy, and their children.  When the children were off to school with their dad, Cindy and I drove to the Baltimore Convention Center to open our booth. Eric Olsen (deputy director CVD) was there chatting with friends from the adjoining Coop America booth.  Cindy - Cynthia Terrell, Vice President, CVD, spoke in Friday morning’s 10am Roundtable: “Moving to the Next Stage: Breaking Barriers for Women in Politics.”

We attended with educational materials and leaflets on Proportional Representation (PR) and other forms of voting systems to pass out to the other speakers and the hundreds of interested people in the audience.  All ten speakers discussed the challenges women face in running for and winning elective office while looking for effective strategies for winning equal representation.  Naturally Cindy championed systems of election using PR as a way to introduce a more level playing field that includes women, though she cited from her own experience that voting is a luxury when women have little free time. (continued on page two)


The first General Assembly took place Friday afternoon in the vast Exhibition Hall.  Thousands and thousands were officially welcomed to this second Feminist Exposition sponsored and produced by the Feminist Majority Foundation.  There were some 575 other national and international sponsoring organizations.

The Expo was conceived of as a national and worldwide coming together for women’s empowerment. Feminist Milestones of the 20th Century were reviewed and saluted.  At the top of the list of Milestones figured: “Winning the vote for Women” and “Winning equal rights under the law”.

Then Pioneer Awards were presented to the visionaries of the feminist 20th century that had worked for these Milestones, including our own Wilma Rule.
Wilma was honored with the Pioneer Award for her path-opening research, documentation and education demonstrating the importance of using PR in winning political equality for women.  She received her award noting that the modern feminist movement will make big advances into the 21st Century using PR!

Eleanor Smeal and Katherine Spillar, President and National Coordinator of the Feminist Majority Foundation respectively, are strong proponents of PR in long and short range plans for getting women elected to office. Citing “political empowerment” as a cutting-edge issue of our time, the Feminist Majority devoted a good number of the 106 symposia, panels, roundtables and training sessions to election systems analysis.  Experts and audiences were brought together to exchange perspectives and experiences across sectors, issues and disciplines.

Saturday afternoon’s Symposia “Changing the Rules: Leveling the Political Playing Field for Women” featured election rules in the USA and internationally to examine how elections systems impact women’s representation in elected office. The seven panelists discussed actual existing and proposed rule changes for leveling political playing fields.

Katherine Spillar chaired the session in which speakers generated new ideas and solutions with PR as the main focus. Wilma Rule, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, University of Nevada, Reno, quoted from her new book on the reasons why using PR gets women elected.  Rob Richie noted possible future problems using PR and offered examples of problems where some form is now being used. Jill Bystydzienski, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Iowa State University, offered examples of how PR worked to get women in office in her country of origin, Norway. She also reviewed the use of PR in some other parts of Europe. Erwin Chermerinsky, Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics, and political science, University of Southern California Law School described favorably a number of PR model projects and PR policies. 

Joyce Piliso-Seroke, Chair, Gender Equality Commission of South Africa explained how the use of PR in South Africa transformed social relations as she was able to observe serving as a committee member of the Human Rights Violation Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Rajana Kumari, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Social Research and Coordinator, Joint Action Front for Indian Women spoke of the strengths and weaknesses of women’s electoral campaigns in India.  With the enthusiastic participation of many women eager to learn more about PR, the session ended an exciting moment for the big advances for PR!

Back at the CVD table, Eric Olsen and I were able to talk with feminist of all ages and geographical locations who wanted more information. We handed out lots of our literature, Doug Amy’s pocket handbook, and videos about PR to be shown in classes and organizations. Many people are now on our email lists and can hook up to get a speaker to come to their meetings.

In all, we were “wowed” by the exposure,  interest and attention to PR!  Look for Wilma Rule’s new book  “The U.S. House of Representatives. Reform or Rebuild?” edited by Joseph Zimmerman and Wilma Rule to appear soon.  There is confidence that big advances are marking the stride of CVD and NCCPR (now Californians for Proportional Representation) into the 21st Century!


The first letter to the Editor

(This is the first printable ‘letter to the editor’ I have received in over two years, so please indulge me by printing it in full –ED)


Wilma Rule’s views

Thank you for the informative newsletter and thanks to Steve, Marda, Jim and Paula and to all the others who are working so hard for PR.

Re the name. I like PR in the name of our organization for that is our primary purpose, while the two other suggestions could be for term limits, campaign finance reform etc.

Re: AB 172 being gutted: did it include the possibility of list PR which is the leading system throughout the world, including S. Africa?

If one doesn’t like parties making the decision, an open list system allows voters to choose candidates on the party list or across party lists. This works at the local level where non-partisan and/or (continued on page three ...)

(from page two ...) independent lists can apply.

Re League of Women Voters and IRV: Why not make the study first of election systems then promote a choice among a few system? There are questions regarding IRV.

1. It is a majority system which leaves out the political minority especially women and ethnic minorities, and third and other small parties.

2. Sometimes the person who gets the most 1’s loses.

3. It promotes insincere voting, e.g. vote for people you don’t want as 1, then you previously arrange to get the persons who will probably be omitted in the first round to rank you as their second choice, and then you have a good chane to win a majority.

Thanks to Paula re informing us re the League. Yes I will be glad to help in their study and in speaking to League chapters.

The National Organization of Women is supporting Proportional Representation because it offers more opportunity for women’s election. (Thanks to Steve for informing us regarding their resolution for PR).

Here are some criteria for a fair election system originally drawn up by Professor Joseph P Zimmerman of SUNY at Albany, which might be considered at the AGM:

(1)The electoral system results in representation which reflects the racial, ethnic, gender, economic and other groups in a city, state and nation.

·         majority and minority interests in approximate proportions the their population are included.

(2)Voters can elect candidates and/or groups they want to represent them and they do not have their votes wasted.

·         A vote is wasted if it never or rarely elects a person or party that voters want. That is one reason for low voter turnout, apathy and alienation. An election system which provides that minorities are represented will allow no or few wasted votes.

(3)A fair election system results in a high proportion of eligible citizens, registered and voting.

·         Full citizen participation is a goal for democratic government

(4)A fair election system results in an equitable distribution of government costs and benefits.

(5)A fair election system results in domestic tranquility – peace among diverse groups in the city


Sincerely, Wilma Rule



From Berkeley to Amarillo ... and beyond!


The Berkeley League of Women Voters (LWV) are likely to recommend IRV according to Jim Lindsay (a full report will appear in the next issue).

In news around the country, cumulative voting was used for the first time in Amarillo Independent School District recently. Both a black candidate and a Latina candidate won. She almost certainly needed cumulative voting to win, although the breakdown of how people voted is not yet available. Turnout also showed a big upswing. It was 13%, up from under 4% in the last school board election.

On May 2nd a GOP panel recommended PR for electing delegates to the Republican National Convention. While this hasn’t been adopted at least PR is a debatable item on the agenda.

The Green Party of Washington State held its founding convention and elected the five “at-large” members of its coordinating council using PR.

On May 4th, London held its first Mayoral election with the result determined by second preference voting. Even more significant, the new London assembly was elected with the two-vote Mixed Member Proportional system used in Germany and New Zealand and more recently in Scotland and Wales.  On May 18th, a private members bill was introduced and debated on the floor of the Canadian House of Commons. If passed, it would set up an all-party committee to recommend the best alternatives to winner-take-all for a nationwide referendum. The vote will be taken in the fall. In New Zealand, the debate is whether STV (Choice Voting) will be allowed for local elections in 2001 or 2004. Finally in a hectic month for PR enthusiasts, efforts to completely remove the remnants of PR in Italy failed.


Local Chapter Contacts


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)-841-6761/email at david@diana.lbl.gov


Vice-President of Local Chapters is Nat Lerner (831) 442-1238 /email at natscottl@yahoo.com

Contact Numbers in Your Area
You can reach us by calling the local number in your area: 415-558-8133  831-442-1238  510-527-8025  650-962-8412  707-523-0440  916-967-0300  408-432-9148


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



2nd Annual Leadership Retreat



The retreat will be on June 24th from 9:00am to 5pm. in the Holsinger Room at the YMCA Point Bonita Conference Center at the Marin Headlands, Fort Barry #981.The agenda includes “Training on effective lobbying” by Rachel Richmond and “Brainstorming and team-building for PR” by our activists. The cost of the retreat is $15 in advance or $20 on the door. The cost includes beverages, continental breakfast and lunch. Send your check made out to NCCPR to Dave Kadlecek, Treasurer,267 Lester #301 Oakland, CA 94606.

From the North

Highway 101 South PASS the Marin City-Sausalito exit and go through the Waldo (“Rainbow”) Tunnel.  Take the Sausalito exit, last exit before the Golden Gate Bridge  At stop-sign turn right under the freeway to second stop-sign  50 yards after the second stop-sign, take the first left to the 6 minute tunnel into the Marin Headlands

From the South

Highway 101 north across the Golden Gate Bridge  Take Alexander Ave exit, first exit after Vista Point  Veer right onto Alexander Avenue  Take first left to the 6 minute tunnel into the Marin Headlands

From the 6 minute tunnel (everyone)

The tunnel road becomes Bunker Road. Proceed through the housing area for approx. 2 miles, following signs for the Mrin headlands Visitor Center. 50 yards past the stables, bear to theleft onto Field Road Road (there will be a sign for Point Bonita at this intersection)  Continue up the hill, passing the Visitor Center and a Nike Missile Base, to the YMCA Point Bonita. Guest Parking is on your left as you enter. The Holsinger Room is on the right behind the large Dining Hall.






Voice for Democracy


P.O. Box 128

Sacramento, California 95812