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Voice for Democracy
Newsletter of Californians for Electoral Reform
In This Issue
News from FairVote
FairVote and its allies are working to change American electoral rules so that our political system can breathe with the fresh air of multi-party, multi-candidate politics. We're finding fertile ground in more states and cities across the country - places where at least one major party has decided that accommodating voter choice is better than fighting it.
Fairvote's Rob Richie reviews recent reform progress here.
Steve Chessin's president's letter covers the Annual General Meeting on May 15, including discussions of Prop 14 and AB 308, and the Wilma Rule Award. Steve also reminds us of the importance of successful implementation in Alameda County this fall.
CfER was one of the first organizations to oppose Proposition 14. As a result, when the state ballot pamphlet was prepared early in 2010, CfER was one five organizations which signed either the argument against the measure or the rebuttal to argument for it.
Because CfER was listed in the voter pamphlet, reporters seeking to better understand the measure contacted us. This was especially true because the other organizations who opposed the measure tended not to have any special expertise on the matter.
We have witnessed a consistent decline in political support for the dominant political parties and political leadership nationwide over the last 40 years. The good news, if you can call it that, is that we are not alone: political support is declining in many of the world's older democracies, for reasons that are not directly related to political parties. The bad news is that our particular two party system exacerbates tensions between citizens and government.
We can, and should, do better for our citizens. One alternative is to allow more political parties to compete for leadership. Multi-party systems outperform two party systems on a number of indicators commonly used to measure the quality of democracy.
Political scientist Michael Latner explains the superiority of multi-party systems in this article.
Drawing on material in his new book, Europe's Promise, Steven Hill -- the latest winner of CfER's Wilma Rule Award -- writes:
"I recall the first time I visited the German Bundestag. What was even more memorable than the parliamentary building itself was the legislative chamber. When you visit the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives, left and right are plain to see - Democrats on one side, Republicans on the other - with an aisle, a dividing line, down the middle, adversaries forever battering each other. With only two viable electoral choices, the free marketplace has spread everywhere except to our politics.
"But in Germany's Bundestag, I observed five aisles and sections, a different one for each political party. I had always known that Germany is a multi-iparty democracy rather than a two-party democracy, but seeing a visual display of that was a thrill ..."
Read more here.
Help us grow! Download, print and distribute this membership flyer.
Californians for Electoral Reform (CfER) is a statewide citizens' group promoting election reforms that ensure that our government fairly represents the voters. We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with members from across the political spectrum. Since our founding in May of 1993, our numbers have grown from about two dozen to hundreds of members participating in local chapters across California.
OUR ELECTORAL SYSTEM IS IMPORTANT
The method by which we vote has dramatic consequences, and nearly one third of the state's electorate consistently goes without a representative that speaks for them in Sacramento. The choice of electoral system can determine whether there will be "spoilers" or vote-splitting effects, majority sweeps of representation on city councils, or pervasive negative campaigning. The choice of electoral system determines whether minority perspectives or racial and ethnic minority groups receive fair representation or get shut out of the process entirely.
CfER IS THE LEADING ADVOCACY GROUP FOR THESE REFORMS IN CALIFORNIA
CfER works for legislation that would allow cities and counties to adopt voting methods that allow people to rank their preferences when they vote CfER also works with activists in its local chapters to enact fair election methods in cities and counties across the state.
more information about CfER, please visit
CfER was established by citizens like you who think that our government should be representative of the people. A lot of progress is already being made, but the future depends on you.
To join CfER, or renew your membership, please visit
We will soon be able to accept contributions on our website. Meanwhile, checks payable to "Californians for Electoral Reform" or "CfER" can be mailed to the address below.
for Democracy is published by
Californians for Electoral Reform
Sacramento, CA 95812
Editor: Jim Lindsay
Publisher: Bob Richard
Production Team: Joan Strasser, Cat Woods
Contents copyright © 2010 by Californians for Electoral Reform. Signed articles are the responsibility of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Californians for Electoral Reform.