Voice for Democracy


Newsletter of Californians for Proportional Representation

November -December 2001


San Francisco, IRV and You!


The City and County of San Francisco has an initiative on the March 5th 2002 ballot that would change the voting system for all elections to Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). For single member offices (such as Mayor, City Attorney etc), this is the both the least expensive and fairest voting system available. For the Board of Supervisors, it is arguably better than winner-take-all and would educate the public in using preferential ballots. It is certainly cheaper than the current runoff system.


This initiative could possibly prepare the way for Choice Voting to succeed in the next few years in a one on one fight with the single member winner-take all system. More immediately, success in San Francisco would put reforming the voting system, as distinct from other types of election reforms, on the national political agenda.  The chance of success is extremely high. Your chance to make a difference is real.


With your encouragement, the voters of San Francisco can give the whole country a belated but bright New Year’s gift on March 5th  – the hope that democracy can continue to grow in the United States of America.

This edition is devoted to that hope and the campaign for IRV in San Francisco.


Nat Lerner – Editor.


Caleb’s Corner from Caleb Kleppner, CVD West Coast IRV Coordinator.


The San Francisco campaign has real promise for being the first implementation of instant runoff voting in a major US city in 50 years.  We use December runoff elections, which cost $2 million, suffer from low voter turnout (turnout dropped 50% in Dec 2000), and invite the worst kind of negative campaigning.  For these reasons, numerous groups and individuals support IRV.  See the endorsements article below. We're targeting our precinct walking on the more conservative western side of the city with attractive doorhangers (http://www.improvetherunoff.org/doorhanger.jpg) with a message sure to resonate with voters ("One vote can save $2,000,000.  One election, not two.").


Precinct walking and other campaign activities will be occurring every Saturday and Sunday starting Jan 15 and 16 from the San Francisco Green Party office, 1910 Mission St @15th (16th St BART stop) from 10am - 1 pm.  To get involved with the campaign, please contact Caleb Kleppner at 415-824-2735 or calebk@fairvote.org or visit http://www.improvetherunoff.org/


Checks to support the campaign are tax-deductible if made payable to "Center for Voting and Democracy" and mailed using the enclosed enveloped to:

        Center for Voting and Democracy

        PO Box 22411

        San Francisco, CA 94122

The President’s Column


      I attended the kickoff party for the San Francisco IRV campaign on November 17th.  I am extremely excited by this campaign.  We have the potential to get one of the largest cities in California to actually use IRV.  The most important thing any CPR member can do to advance the cause of electoral reform in the next three months is to help with the campaign.
      There are two ways you can help.  The first is to volunteer.

      By the time you read this, San Francisco will have held an expensive low-turnout runoff election for City Attorney, and the campaign intends to leverage public dissatisfaction with that waste of money into support for IRV.

      To do this, the campaign is walking precincts dropping literature and hanging doorhangers, and if you haven't seen the doorhanger I suggest you take a look at http://www.improvetherunoff.org/doorhanger.jpg
      The campaign needs volunteers to distribute the literature and doorhangers.  To volunteer, call 415-824-2735.  Any CPR member who volunteers for four or more hours will get their membership extended by a year; any non-member who volunteers for four or more hours will get a complimentary 1-year CPR membership.

      Of course, not all of us live close enough to San Francisco to help out in person.  That leads to the second way you can help, by contributing financially to the campaign.  The campaign needs money to print the literature that the volunteers will be distributing.  Make your check payable to CVD and send it to CVD, PO Box 22411, San Francisco, CA 94122, or use the convenient remit envelope enclosed with this newsletter.  (Don't forget to put a stamp on it!)  Any CPR member who contributes $50 or more will get their membership extended by a year; any non-member who contributes $50 or more will get a complimentary 1-year CPR membership.

      I hope you will be able to help.


Steve Chessin, President, Californians for Proportional Representation


IRV - Improving the December Runoff in San Francisco


"Let this be the last time San Francisans go to the polls in the middle of the holiday season ... There must be a better way."

          -- San Francisco Chronicle , "The Last December Election," 12/14/1999


      On July 9, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to place an instant runoff voting charter amendment on the March 2002 ballot.


What's the problem?

      December runoff elections are:

·        Costly to the taxpayer -- up to $2 million to set up polling sites, mail voter guides and hire pollworkers

·        Inconvenient for voters -- who wants to vote in the mdidle of the holiday season?

·        Often very negative, further alienating voters


What's the solution?

      Instant runoff voting achieves the worthy goal of a runoff -- electing majority winners -- in a single election. This has several advantages:

·        Saves tax dollars, up to $2 million.

·        Frees voters from having to deal with elections in December

·        Raises voter turnout. Turnout dropped by nearly 50% in December 2000

·        Supports campaign finance reform, since candidates don't have to raise more money for a second election

·        Reduces negative campaigning.  With instant runoffs, candidates have incentive to build and mobilize voters instead of tearing down their opponents.


And for really good turnout 

On November 21, Denmark saw a change of government after the governing coalition was decisively beaten in a general election using Proportional Representation. Voter turnout was near record high at 89.3 percent. Two small parties - the Center Democrats and another anti-immigration group, the Progress Party - exited parliament for failure to reach the required 2 percent of vote totals. Both entered in 1973.



Local Chapters and Contacts

San Diego County Contact is Edward Teyssier, 858-546-1774/email atedward@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


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

On Tuesday 27 November, the Berkeley City Council repealed their redistricting ordinance and the redistricting process will begin anew, with a deadline of 1 April for passing a new plan. The council could have put my proposal for proportional representation or the original ordinance on the March ballot, but declined to do so because the county would charge the city a fee for a referendum on the March ballot. Proportional representation would have to be on the ballot because it is a charter amendment, and the ordinance would have to be put on the ballot because of a successful petition campaign. Peter Gaposchkin.

San Francisco IRV Endorsements
      As of December 10th 2001, 18 organizations and dozens of people have already endorsed this initiative. The full list is at http://www.improvetherunoff.org/endorse.txt
      To endorse this initiative, please contact Caleb Kleppner, 415-824-2735, calebk@fairvote.org
The organizations include: Common Cause, Sierra Club, Senior Action Network (SAN), League of Conservation Voters, 
Latino Democratic Club, California PIRG, California Nurses Association,
GCIU Local 4, Gray Panthers, SF Tenants Union, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA),
The Bayview Newspaper, Green Party, Center for Voting and Democracy, Reform Party,
US Public Interest Research Group, Labor Party, California Instant Runoff Voting Coalition.









Voice for Democracy


P.O. Box 128

Sacramento, California 95812