[EM] FWD - Center for Voting and Democracy Digest:

I Like Irving donald at mich.com
Sun Apr 15 00:14:31 PDT 2001

  ------------ Forwarded Digest -----------
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 04:02:48 -0500
From: Rob Richie <FairVote at compuserve.com>
Subject: Fair Elections: Legislation, reports, democracy conference, more:
Sender: Rob Richie <FairVote at compuserve.com>
To: Blind.Copy.Receiver at compuserve.com

April 6, 2001

To:   Friends of Fair Elections

Fr:   Rob Richie, Executive Director, Center for Voting and Democracy,

Re:  - Instant runoff voting legislation in 12 states & Congress
        - Proportional voting legislation in states & Congress
        - City efforts likely to lead to ballot measures in 2001
        - Pro-democracy conference June 29-July 1 in Phila.
        - May 4 event on proportional voting in New York City
        - Electoral reform movement gathers strength
        - Media coverage: Important new articles, books, more
          and CVD on CSPAN, NBC & CNN
        - New CVD web reports on diversity, competitiveness
        - Pro rep movements in Canada and United Kingdom
        - Getting active: Equipment, demo elections, legislation;
           and calling on interns... Join the CVD team!
        - USA Today editorial in favor of instant runoff voting

It has been an exciting first quarter of 2001! Legislation has
been introduced on instant runoff voting* in a dozen states and
in Congress. Bills on proportional voting systems have been
put forward in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois and Congress --
including a new version of the Voters' Choice Act to once
restore to states the right to use proportional voting systems*.
(* See descriptions of these systems at end of update.)

We have also joined with a range of other civic groups to
study and advocate improvements to our electoral process -- a
process so clearly exposed as lacking in last year's elections.
Recommendations will begin with new voting equipment and
methods of voter education, but are certain to explore more
fully the significance of the franchise and how to increase voter
participation. We believe that as long as citizens keep pressing
for reform, we can make important advances, both at a federal
and state level. See our new Christian Science Monitor
commentary today at www.csmonitor.com for our analysis
of reform opportunities and to see how much is under
consideration in states, peruse the National Conference of State
Legislators' database on electoral reform legislation at

Activists and grassroots reformers are also mobilizing around
ambitious reform agendas that prominently highlight
proportional representation and instant runoff voting. There will
be a major pro-democracy conference in Philadelphia on June
29 - July 1st -- with several workshops on voting system
reform and a town hall meeting with our president John
Anderson. We have organized four regional conferences this
year that have cumulatively drawn more than 350 people (see a
description of the most recent workshop below) and are
co-sponsors of a May 4th New York City event on proportional

We also have generated steady media coverage. New articles
by our staff and board have appeared this year in numerous
publications, including the American Prospect, Tompaine.com,
the Southern Regional Council's "Voting Rights Review" and
the Progressive magazine, while longer pieces will be in
Harvard's Asian American Policy Review and a new book
"Challenges to Equality: Poverty and Race in America" (ME
Sharpe, April 2001). CVD advisory board members have new
books that are remarkable contributions to informed debate
about election systems: Douglas Amy's "Behind the Ballot
Box: A Citizen's Guide to Voting Systems" (Praeger, 2000)
and Kathleen Barber's "A Right to Representation: Proportional
Election Systems for the 21st Century" (Ohio State University
Press) -- both are available in paperback and essential additions
to the bookshelves of election system reformers and scholars.

Perhaps just as importantly, more people with no association
with our Center are advocating voting system reform. New
articles linked from our website include powerful pieces by Jim
Cullen, Lani Guinier, Jim Hightower and Miles Rapoport and
 newspaper editorials strongly in favor of instant runoff voting
from USA Today, St. Petersburg Times and Trenton Times.

There are important new reports on our site as well, including
ones on diversity (and lack thereof) in state and federal
legislatures and on competitiveness and turnout (and yes, lack
thereof!) in congressional elections. Find out if your state is
among the five (only one with more than three seats) where
more than half of House seats were not won by landslide
victory margins - and how it ranks in voter turnout, accuracy of
how votes translated into seats, representation of women,
representation of people of color and more. See if your House
Member was among the 235 that we predicted would win by
a landslide -- only one of whom fell short (winning instead by
a mere 18% margin). And don't forget our state-by-state guide
to redistricting as we head full-tilt into this often brutal battle
for power -- one that in winner-take-all elections determines
the representation most voters are going to have at any given
level of election for the next decade.

Please feel encouraged to share this e-newsletter with others.
To receive frequent postings about news around the country
and world, please subscribe to cvdclips by sending a message
to cvdclips-subscribe at yahoogroups.com. Contact national field
director Dan Johnson-Weinberger at djw at instantrunoff.com to
see if there is a listserv in your area.

* Instant runoff voting legislation in 12 states and Congress

A 1997 bill in Texas was the first state legislation in decades --
as far as we know -- to propose instant runoff voting. It would
have made it an option for local elections. By 1999, legislation
to enact instant runoff voting for most state and federal offices
passed one house of the New Mexico legislature and similar
legislation was subject of hearings in Vermont and Alaska.

This year, a dozen states have bills on instant runoff voting
(IRV), and hearings on these bills have been held in several
states. Washington's IRV bill -- one that would enact IRV for
most major offices in the state -- has passed one senate
committee and come tantalizingly close in another, where it
remains alive due to great grassroots work by Brent White, Nat
Holder and Krist Novoselic. California's powerful speaker of
the house has introduced legislation to adopt IRV to fill state
legislative and federal vacancy elections. New Mexico
legislation lost in a narrow floor vote in the house, while
Vermont's bill is co-sponsored by a third of the senate and has
the support of state branches of PIRG, Common Cause, the
Grange and League of Women Voters. Already qualified for
the November 2002 statewide ballot, IRV advocates in Alaska
are now fully focused on the ballot measure.

There are federal bills on instant runoff voting: HR 57, a bill
with 45 co-sponsors, that would establish a commission to
consider a full range of electoral reforms, including instant
runoff voting and proportional representation, and HR 1189,
the Voters' Choice Act, which would express a sense of
Congress that states should adopt instant runoff voting to
allocate electoral votes in the presidential race. Expect more
federal; legislation on instant runoff voting this spring, and
track pending legislation at fairvote.org/reports/1999/index.htm.

* Proportional voting legislation in states and Congress

The Voters' Choice Act (HR 1189), versions of which have
been introduced in each congressional session by Rep. Cynthia
McKinney since 1995, would allow states to use proportional
voting methods by amending the 1967 law that required the US
House to be elected from single member districts. See new
commentaries about proportional representation by Rep.
McKinney (fairvote.org/op_eds/next_step_for_democracy.htm)
and by Rep. James Clyburn (.fairvote.org/op_eds/clyburn.htm)

Like HR 57 (referenced above), the Congress 2004
Commission Act (HR 506) also would study proportional
representation, but with a more narrow focus. It would create a
commission to analyze the size of Congress (after changing
every decade since its formation, House size was set at the
current 435 level in 1910) and how it is elected -- specifically
citing proportional representation and cumulative voting.

Georgia considered legislation on cumulative voting and choice
voting, while in Alabama, HB 660 would allow cumulative
voting in certain elections including members of the county
commission, board of education, or municipal governing
bodies. In Illinois, there is bipartisan support for a
constitutional amendment that would restore cumulative voting
in three-member districts to the Illinois House. HJR 4 would
replace the current 118 single-member district system with 39
districts of three members each, elected by cumulative voting
(see www.fairvote.org/op_eds/Ill.htm for recent news article on
the bill). This would allow the political minority in each part of
the state to be represented in Springfield, not just the political

Visit fairvote.org/reports/1999/index.html to track legislation
about voting system reform.

* City efforts likely to lead to ballot measures in 2001

In the wake of a unanimous recommendation by a charter
commission in January 2000, the city council in Austin, Texas
is considering placing instant runoff voting for city council
races on the ballot later this year. A part-time CVD consultant
is building support for this potential campaign, while CVD is
tracking other city activism that could lead to ballot measures
to implement instant runoff voting or proportional systems --
expect at least one or two votes this year.

* Pro-democracy conference June 29-July 1 in Philadelphia

A broad range of groups, including our Center, have joined
together to organize a major conference in Philadelphia June 29
- July: "The Pro-Democracy Convention Shaping the Future of
Democracy in America. After two plenary sessions, attenders
will attend three rounds of workshops on aspects of the
"Voters' Bill of Rights," which includes instant runoff voting
and proportional representation (to read the full set of planks,
see www.ippn.org/ProDemocracy-Main.htm). Look for more
information about this important event soon, but if you're
looking for a chance to plug into reform work, save the date on
your calendar. To track the conference and other
pro-democracy events, visit www.ips-dc.org/electoral, an
excellent new web resource from the Institute for Policy
Studies and the Nation magazine.

* May 4 event on proportional representation in New York

The Independent Politics Group at the City University of New
York Graduate Center and CVD will hold an event on the
evening of May 4th on "Proportional Representation in New
York City: Looking Back, Looking Forward." The choice
voting method of PR was used for five elections during the
city's "golden age" under Mayor LaGuardia, and a growing
number of political players in the city would like to see it
restored. More details will be released on our website shortly.

* Electoral reform movement gathering strength

As touched on in describing the Philadelphia and New York
events, there is important new grassroots activism for reform --
energy that only promises to build with more campaigns, more
gatherings like a "democracy institute" planned for students
(www.ips-dc.org/electoral/demsum.htm) and more community
eduction initiatives.

Working on the inside, our Center is involved with four
different coalitions and sets of task forces organized by the
Constitution Project, Demos, League of Women Voters and the
National Coalition for Black Civic Participation. With the
broad range of people involved in these and other similar
efforts, we are confident that reform recommendations about
voting mechanics, voter education and voter participation will
be developed that will be very influential with Congress, states
and localities. Even if these improvements in voting mechanics
do not directly address proportional representation and instant
runoff voting, they are essential building blocks for reformers
-0 not only to protect and enhance the right to vote, but to lead
to new voting equipment that can handle better ranked-choice
methods like instant runoff voting that cannot be conducted on
outmoded machines like punchcards.

One particularly important insider initiative is the National
Commission on Election Reform, organized earlier this year by
the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs and
the Century Foundation. Chaired by former presidents Jimmy
Carter and Gerald Ford, the commission held the first of four
public hearings on election reform on March 26th in Atlanta,
Georgia. It focused on voting mechanics, but did hear
testimony from Alex Keyssar, a Duke professor and author of
the highly recommended book "The Right to Vote: The
Contested History of Democracy in America," about
proportional representation and instant runoff voting. More
information about the commission is available at
The commission is soliciting public comment.

* Media coverage: Important new articles, books, television

Browse through the amazing array of news coverage on
election system reform from recent months at
fairvote.org/op_eds/media.htm. And don't forget the new
books by Douglas Amy (Behind the Ballot Box) and Kathleen
Barber (The Right to Representation) described above.

CVD president John Anderson was a guest on C-SPAN's
Washington Journal program on, April 1st, where he talked
about proportional representation and instant runoff voting
(John is celebrating his 80th year with typical energy and
inspiration -- speaking at our four regional conferences,
appearing on at least three additional panels to debate the
Electoral College, writing new articles and still balancing
his other hats with the World Federalists and Public
Campaign.) My comments likely will be featured in an
upcoming CNN News story on the state of the electoral
reform debate on "Inside Politics," and I recently appeared
on CNN's "Talkback Live" and on NBC Evening News to
discuss electoral reform. (We believe that movement toward
reform has great momentum, even if going more slowly
than some anticipated. It is not a question of whether we
will modernize and improve voting processes and voter
education, but to what degree.)

* New CVD web reports on diversity, competitiveness

For several years the Center has produced reports on
competition and voter turnout in congressional races. This
series, tagged "Dubious Democracy," has been updated to
include results from the 2000 elections, which stand among the
least competitive in decades. See state-by-state statistics and
state rankings at: fairvote.org/reports/1999/index.html.
See how well we did in our congressional predictions at:

We also have produced a new report on representation of
women, political parties and racial and ethnic minorities in
state and federal legislatures at: fairvote.org/vra/index.html#data
The Center regularly produces such reports on elections and
election systems. Other recent reports on our web include:

      - a state-by-state public interest guide to redistricting

      - an analysis of Louisiana's blanket primary

      - a review of non-majority winners in federal elections

      - an analysis of the impact of runoff elections on
        representation of women and racial minorities

      - analysis of the presidential elections, 2000 and 2004:

* Pro Rep movements gathering steam in Canada and UK

The proportional representation movement in the United
Kingdom, centered around the British Electoral Reform Society
(see www.electoral-reform.org.uk/), has been active for more
than a century. Recent successes include adoption of
proportional representation for assembly elections in Northern
Ireland, Scotland, Wales and London and for elections to the
European Parliament. Current focuses include efforts to win the
choice voting method of proportional representation for
municipal elections in Scotland -- recommended now by two
commissions -- and, of course, elections to the big British
prize, the House of Commons. After winning nearly two-thirds
of seats with barely two-fifths of the vote, Tony Blair's Labour
government backed away from a pledge to hold a national
referendum to adopt a proportional system for the House of
Commons elections, but recently has indicated that a
referendum remains possible for the next parliament -- much
may depend on the size of the likely Labour majority in
elections likely to take place later this year.

Meanwhile, Canada's remarkable distortions and regional
imbalance in national and provincial elections has made it ripe
for reform. Fair Vote Canada, a national citizens' campaign to
change Canada's voting system, has been officially launched at
a "Making Votes Count" conference in Ottawa last weekend. A
citizen-based, non-partisan campaign involving people from all
parts of the political spectrum and all regions of the country,
Fair Vote Canada (FVC) is mounting a nation-wide educational
campaign. See information at <www.fairvotecanada.org> and
one of the most active branches <www.fairvotingbc.com>.

Another conference will take place in Ottawa on May 2-3:
"Votes and Seats: Opportunities and Challenges for Electoral
Reform in Canada," organized by the Institute for Research on
Public Policy. Registration details and the conference program
are posted at: http://www.irpp.org/events/archive/050201e.htm

* Getting active: Equipment, demo elections and legislation

Below is a the report on our recent Los Angeles conference by
Casey Peters, one of the conference's organizers and a
founding member -- it provides a small window into reform
energy in many states. In addition to boosting legislation and
any ballot measures in your area, we urge you to write your
county and state legislators to ask them to make sure that any
new voting equipment in your county and state has the capacity
to handle all voting methods now used in the United States,
including ranked-choice systems and cumulative voting. We
also want to urge people to consider holding demonstration
elections in their area -- and for those fed up with political
insiders ignoring the public interest in redistricting, consider a
simple demonstration... or at least a good letter to your editor
about how proportional voting systems are the best way to
allow voters to pick their representatives rather than the other
way around. To find out how to get active in your area, please
contact our national field director, Dan Johnson-Weinberger, at
djw at instantrunoff.com and visit our activist website page

We also have internships available, both in our national office
outside Washington, DC and in field offices in San Francisco,
Los Angeles and Chicago.

Casey Peters on "Los Angeles Regional Conference on
Reform": Over 120 people gathered at Loyola Law School
on Saturday, March 24 to explore possible changes in
American elections. The event was videotaped for broadcast
by Adelphi Communications...
     The first panelist to speak was Los Angeles County
registrar Conny McCormack, who related her experiences
(noting that while well acquainted with hanging chads, had
never heard of dimpled or pregnant chads until after Election
2000). She expressed an openness to accommodating new
elections systems to bring better representation to the voters of
Los Angeles County. Next, John Anderson spoke about how
we need to go beyond replacing unreliable voting machines and
look at instant runoff voting and proportional representation.
His eloquence and wit enlivened both the audience and the rest
of the panel. State Assembly Member Robert Pacheco, a
Republican, spoke about the difficulties of being in a minority
party in the legislature, but promoted his bills for electoral
reform. Next, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky was
sharply critical of the role of the commercial media in
distorting fair elections. Finally, Mark Ridley-Thomas reiterated
the argument that African-Americans had been excluded in the
2000 elections. Many people raised questions from the
floor before the televised session ended....

* USA Today editorial in favor of instant runoff voting

Below is from one of the best new articles and commentaries
on our website. It ran in USA Today on February 5, 2001

"Spoiler-free elections"

Life isn't very happy these days for the ''spoilers'' from
November's elections.

As reported by USA TODAY last week, Democrats in
Congress are shunning their old consumer-advocate comrade in
arms, Ralph Nader, because he siphoned off enough voters to
cost Al Gore the election. If just a fraction of Nader backers in
Florida and New Hampshire had gone for Gore, he would have
won both states, and a majority of the Electoral College.

While not widely reported, GOP renegade Patrick Buchanan
played a similar role. Bush lost New Mexico, Iowa, Wisconsin
and Oregon by margins so small that Buchanan's votes could
have given him victory. If Bush hadn't eked out a
court-ordered edge in Florida, Republicans would be
denouncing Buchanan just as Democrats do Nader.

Clearly, both parties have a stake in changing the system --
ideally without making it harder for third-party and
independent candidates to get on the ballot.

Some states, notably in the South, already require runoffs
between the top two candidates if no one gets 50% of the vote
in a primary or election for state office. Many other countries
elect presidents that way. Thus whoever wins can legitimately
claim to have majority support. But second campaigns are
expensive and would result in even more special-interest
money tainting the process.

Two California cities, Oakland and San Leandro, just adopted a
better way for local elections, called ''instant runoff voting.''
Under it, voters rank the candidates 1, 2, 3 in order of
preference. Voters thus could support both a Nader and a Gore,
both a Buchanan and a Bush, or any other combination.

If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the
count is over and that candidate wins. If not, the last-place
finisher is eliminated. Ballots cast for that candidate are
counted for voters' next choice, until someone has a clear
majority. Australia and Ireland have used the system for


Instant runoff voting: Voting system in which winners must be
acceptable to at least half of voters and in which non-major
candidates are not dismissed as "spoilers." Voters can rank
candidates in order of their choice rather than be restricted to
voting for only one.

Proportional voting systems: Voting systems in which
groupings of like-minded voters win representation in
proportion to their share of the vote. If 20% of voters seek a
certain kind of representation, they will win one out of five
seats. If 51% want another kind of representation, they should
win three seats. In short, a majority earns its right to decide,
but political minorities earn their right to representation.

Visit our website for more information: fairvote.org

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