Voice for Democracy


Newsletter of the Northern California Citizens for Proportional Representation

November - December 1999

Preparing for the next century

IRV on the SF agenda


San Francisco, Monday, November 15, 1999

            9am:   Steve Hill made a short presentation to the 3-member Rules Committee (Chair Mark Leno, members Mabel Teng and Barbara Kauffman) and then impressively responded to a wide range of questions.

            Various members of the public made short comments, and then the committee moved to pass the charter amendment to the full Board without recommendation.

            2pm: the Board introduced the amendment and summarily continued it to the next meeting, when it will be debated and voted on.

--Caleb Kleppner


From the Presidents ...

                We are approaching the half way mark of the NCCPR year.  After our annual meeting in May, we held our first leadership retreat in June. The Board members have gotten into a routine of face to face Board/Coordinating Committee meetings every other month (July, September, November).  Coordinating Committee conference calls are made during the alternating months for VPs.  The nine board members are supplemented with appointed representatives of the other registered political parties.

             We are currently looking for Reform, Natural Law, and American Independent party representatives for our Board.  If that is you, or if you know of someone active in these parties, they need to know PR is a concept that third parties can benefit from.  Ask them to consider joining our organization and getting involved with the Board. Pass suggestions to Steve Chessin or I and we will follow up with them.

            We plan to hold some special training sessions to present Proportional Representation as curriculum or speaker training.  These will be sponsored by one of the local chapters but all members will be invited to attend.  All of us have different ways of explaining what it is we are trying to promote.  You may not want to be a speaker or teach Proportional Representation but you will learn more of what it is and how to explain it better to others.

            You support NCCPR because you think Proportional Representation is a good concept and you are willing to join others who are working to spread the word.  Thank you for your membership and your support.  Over the next few months I intend to engage in a query of your satisfaction with member services and our use of member resources.  If you have ideas please email or call me. --Marda Stothers  510 437-3248 MQStothers@aol.com

Steve adds:-  Hearings took place on Representative Mel Watt's States Choice of Voting Systems Act (HR 1173) on 23 September 1999, the bill that would enable states to use proportional representation (PR) to elect their Congressional delegations.  Five witnesses spoke in favor, and four spoke against.  See http://www.house.gov/judiciary/2.htm to find out what they said.

            In the last newsletter I mentioned that the National Organization for Women (NOW) was considering a position on PR.  Well, at their national board meeting in Washington, DC, 24-26 September, they adopted a resolution endorsing PR!  (See page four for details -ED)(We were expecting a resolution just to study it.)  Kudos go to Barbara Blong for her hard work in obtaining this result.  We expect that NOW will be educating its members about PR, spreading the knowledge of this important electoral reform.  (NOW already uses IRV to elect its national officers.)

            Speaking of IRV, voters in Vancouver, Washington, approved Amendment 1 on November 2nd, by 52.9% to 47.1%.  This is a Measure F-like charter amendment that will allow the city of Vancouver to replace their two-round city elections with IRV, and is the second such win for IRV to date.

            And San Francisco Board of Supervisors' President (and mayoral candidate) Tom Ammiano has introduced legislation to switch San Francisco to IRV

beginning next November.  That charter amendment is headed for the March ballot, if the Supervisors agree to put it on.

            The most important thing you can do for NCCPR right now is invite a friend to join.  Tell them why you're a member and ask them if they'd like an information packet.  Send us their name and address and we'll do the rest. --Steve Chessin.


Local Chapter Contacts

South Bay Chapter

            Contact Jim Stauffer, (408) 432-9148, or e-mail  jstauffer@igc.org. for details


North Bay Chapter

            Contact Ray Yahr (707-833-6996) or e-mail at rayyahr@neteze.com


San Francisco Chapter

            Contact Wayne Shepherd (415-681-2580) or e-mail at pauldebits@juno.com


East Bay Chapter

            Contact David Greene (510-841-6761) or e-mail at david@diana.lbl.gov


Vice President of Local Chapters

            Contact Nat Lerner (831-442-1238) or e-mail at nl0916@sprynet.com


Finding more members

            The Membership Team is on track to meet its goal of raising our membership  to 300 members by the next AGM.  Each month we have a quota for the number of new memberships we need -- October's quota was 18 members, for example.  So far, we have made our quota each month, though it hasn't been easy.  Kudos to the following people who have made followup calls or gotten friends and contacts to join in the last 3 months: Caleb Kleppner, Pete Martineau, David Greene, Steve Chessin, Paula Lee, and Jim Lindsay.  In addition, Bob Brown and Les Radke have given us referrals, and some of those referrals have joined NCCPR.  Some memberships and referrals have come in via our web-site, professionally managed by Steve Willett.  And Pete Martineau has been sending out large numbers of packets to both prospective and new members.

            Most of our leads have come via speaking engagements.  Do you know of any group that might be interested in hearing about PR and/or IRV?  We'll happily provide a speaker -- contact you local chapter coordinator or Barbara Blong, our Outreach VP, at 415/826-2322.

            Remember: if you get a friend to join NCCPR, we thank you by extending your membership 6 months.  And if you give us a referral that joins NCCPR, we thank you by extending your membership 2 months.

            To meet our goals in the next two to three months, we need more referrals!  Please: Get a friend to join NCCPR, or give us the names, addresses and phone numbers of a few friends that you think might be interested in PR and IRV.  Send that information to Jim Lindsay at "jim@jerel.com", call it into (510)527-8025 (speak slowly and clearly, spelling out names, please), or send it via postal mail to 555 Pierce St. #141, Albany, CA 94706.  -- Jim Lindsay,  Membership Vice President


League of Women Voters Studies

            The League of Women Voters statewide study of election systems will officially begin at the local level in the spring. Funding sources for the study are currently being explored. In the meantime Local Leagues members are being encouraged to get started by exploring the many resources available via websites such as CVD and NCCPR as well as books and articles.  The "experts" will be interviewed by the League state study committeee and hopefully videotapes of the interviews will be distributed statewide.  The Berkeley, Albany Emeryville LWV and the LWV in El Dorado County have formed study committees that are underway, looking at IRV.

            I encourage all NCCPR members who are able,  to join your local League of Women Voters and tell them you want to be involved in the study of election systems. You can join the study without joining the League but you would be unable to participate in the consensus vote.  Most League members are unfamiliar with election systems and your participation and resources would be helpful to encourage the Local Leagues participation in the state study.  Contact Paula Lee at paulalee@jps.net for information on how to contact your Local League of Women Voters. (open to all citizens, men and women).  -- Paula Lee, Co-director of legislation


Reaching Out

            Outreach, certainly not just the domain of one vice presidency, has, in fact, been a varied/cross-over function of the entire Board. Especially important has been the work of Caleb Kleppner and Jim Lindsay in renewing old and recuiting new  NCCPR members.

            Steve Willett’s and Pete Matineau’s efforts in recording/registering  and contacting/mailing information  continue to be key components of outreach work.  On-going  work continues with the League of Women Voters in developing educational  materials for a two-year-long  study of voting systems . Pete Martineau is working  with the Unitarian Universalist Church to introduce the study of Proportional Representation.

            I am following-up with the National Organization for Women national board  after their September ENDORSEMENT of Proportional Representation  by writing an article on PR for the National NOW Times.  We are working with the Center for Voting and Democracy  in preparing an educational packet of materials for the PR workshops that will be presented in all NOW localities throughout the U.S. -- Barbara Blong, Vice-President of Outreach


GOT PR?    -   Get Training!

                So you’re at a social function and get into a discussion about politics and the usual excuses for voter apathy are trotted out. You casually mention that there are better ways of holding elections that could dramatically reduce voter apathy (PR/IRV). The next thing you know you are being invited to speak on alternative voting systems!

                The NCCPR training committee will provide training in PR and how to present PR. We need to determine the volume of interest. Register your interest with your Local Chapter Co- ordinator or the VP of Local Chapters  (see above) and when there is enough interest we’ll “get training”.


What’s in a name?

    At the August Coordinating committee meeting, it was suggested that we should change our name to include all of California (there currently is no equivalent organization in Southern California)  - in other words drop the “Northern” from our name. As the discussion developed, there were two other separate suggestions; dropping the “Citizens” part of our name and using a phrase other than “Proportional Representation”.

    The meeting realized that any name change would have to be submitted to the membership (probably at the time of the AGM) in a ballot, so there was time to be creative.

    I am calling for articles for the next newsletter for and against the three types of changes suggested. Please make them brief. The following newsletter could include rebuttal arguments. Also if you have better alternatives, please make them known to the Board.

    The following names are currently being used at state levels: Washington CPR;  Midwest Democracy Center / Illinois CPR;  FairVote Minnesota;  Fair Ballot Alliance of Mass. (semi-defunct)

    From other countries, we have the Electoral Reform Coalition (New Zealand), the Australian PR Society, Electoral Reform Society (UK) amongst others. This either leaves us with three independent ballots or a single IRV choice. The variations/permutations are at least: 


Northern California Citizens for Proportional Representation;  California Citizens for Proportional Representation; 

Californians for Proportional Representation;  Northern Californians for Proportional Representation.

Northern California Citizens Democracy Center;  California Citizens Democracy Center;  Northern California Democracy Center;  California Democracy Center.

FairVote Northern California;  FairVote California.

Northern California Electoral Reform Coalition;  Northern California Electoral Reform Society;  California Electoral Reform Coalition;  California Electoral Reform Society;  California Electoral Reform;  Northern California Electoral Reform.

Electoral Reform Northern California;  Electoral Reform California.




Communicating PR

                As we enter the year 2000, proportional representation is still fairly unknown in the U.S.  Campaign finance reform appears to be the top priority of the electorate even though studies, such as "Monopoly Politics" done by Steve Hill and Rob Richie of the Center for Voting and Democracy, have shown that it's the electoral system we use more than the money flowing into a campaign that determines who gets represented and who gets left out. 

                The Information/Education Committee of NCCPR will be dedicating its efforts in the new century to helping people understand this simple fact.  We will continue to use this newsletter and our website to reach out to and educate people.  We have plenty of informational material, articles, booklets and books which can be disseminated to the general public.  We encourage our members to help us-ask you local libraries to carry Real Choices, New

Voices by Douglas Amy and Reflecting All of Us, The Case for Proportional Representation by Robert Richie and Steven Hill.  Start a study group on PR, based on one of these books or other materials we have available.

                We particularly want to reach young people.  Joan Strasser, Co-Vice President for Information, is a teacher and has taught about PR to middle school and high school age kids.  She is planning to develop a curriculum on PR that teachers can use in government and other classes. If our members could help her, it would be greatly appreciated.  Young people are quick to see the unfairness of a winner-take-all election system. It will be up to them to transform the system.  But they must be informed that alternative systems exist.

                Finally, let all of us take advantage of news stories about PR in other countries or complaints about under representation of women and minorities in elected offices here.  Write letters to the editor, op-ed pieces and articles for your local newspapers or organizations' newsletters. Please contact us if we can help.

                In the new millenium we must shout out our story of equality, choice and fair representation.  Let us work together to deliver the message.

 -- Betty Traynor, Co-Vice President for Information



Earn a "Thank You" Gift

    As part of our new Membership Drive, we have a new program.  Ask a friend to join NCCPR -- when they join, as a thank you gift, you'll earn a six months extension to your membership!  Or, if you provide us with some leads, we'll contact them, and for each person that joins NCCPR, you'll earn a two month extension as a thank you gift.

                Here is how it works:

(1) You tell a friend about PR.

(2) She thinks it is a good idea.

(3) You invite your friend to join NCCPR.

(4) Your friend says "Yes."

(5) You send your friend's name, address, phone number, and email address to us, telling us to sign your friend up as a Provisional Member.

(6) Your friend is signed up, starts getting the newsletter, and is billed.  Your membership is extended 6 months.

(7) Your friend pays the bill -- $25 for a regular membership, $6 for a low-income membership, or she can become a Sustainer by making small regular donations, like $10 every two-months.

    What does your friend get by being an NCCPR member?  First, she gets to support a terribly important cause -- the cause of political pluralism, openness, and democracy; of a full and vibrant democracy in the U.S.A.   Second, she will be "in the loop" on the latest news about the movement via our newlsetter, optionally via our email updates, and from her local chapter.  Third, if she wants to volunteer, we've got plenty of opportunities -- but no pressure.  Fourth, we regularly provide training and workshops that are free or very low cost for our members.

    Who do you notify when you have a new member or a lead for us?

    Contact Membership VP, Jim Lindsay.  Email is preferred, if you have email: jim@jerel.com.  You can also call the information in to (510) 527-8025 -- please speak slowly and clearly.

    Remember, we need names, addresses, phone numbers and (hopefully) email addresses, and we need your name, so we can credit you.



 Voice for Democracy is published by Northern California Citizens 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 NL0916@sprynet.com.


NOW endorses PR!

On September 25th.,  the national Board of the National Organization of Women (NOW) endorsed Proportional Representation.  This is a very important breakthrough that, coupled with the recent hearings for HR 1173, are putting PR before a wider national audience. We print the full text as it has many good arguments for PR. -EDITOR



WHEREAS, United States (U.S.) women, over 50% of the population, are only 13% of the U.S. House of representatives and 9% of the U.S.Senate; and WHEREAS, the U.S. is nineteenth among 27 long-established democracies in electing women to national legislatures (Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva, 1999); and WHEREAS, countries that use Proportional Representation (PR) to elect their national legislatures elect many more women - Sweden 43%, Scotland 38%, Norway 36%, Finland 34%, and South Africa 25% - than do winner-take -all countries such as United Kingdom 18%, the United States13%, and France 11% (Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva, 1999); and WHEREAS a study comparing legislation in major democracies found that countries with PR voting systems have enacted more laws that benefit women and children than countries that use "winner-take-all" voting systems such as the United States (Source: Dr. Arend Lijphart, professor of political science and past president of the American Political Science Association); and WHEREAS, the 1997 National Organization for Women (NOW) national conference adopted Victory 2000 with the goal of increasing the number of women in elective office; and WHEREAS, Congressman Melvin L. Watt (D-NC) introduced the STATES' CHOICE OF VOTING ACT, House Resolution (HR) 1173, on March 17, 1999 to allow states to elect their House delegations from multi-seat districts using PR; and WHEREAS, H.R. 1173 has 13 co-sponsors, including Eva M. Clayton (D-NC), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), George Brown (D-CA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), all of whom were endorsed by NOW/PAC in 1998; THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that National NOW endorses PR towards increasing diverse political representation especially for women and people of color; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that an article explaining PR will be published in the "National NOW Times"; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that PR informational and educational materials will be sent to the activist leadership list; and BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that chapters will be encouraged to hold a meeting on PR to educate our membership.

                Submitted by: Constitution/Legal Strategies Issues Hearing, Helen Grieco, CA NOW President Passed: National NOW Board meeting, September 24-26, 1999, Washington, DC.



Voice for Democracy

Northern California CPR

P.O. Box 128

Sacramento, California 95812