Oregon's campaign for proportional rep (fwd)

Donald Davison donald at mich.com
Wed Oct 15 03:42:18 PDT 1997

Dear Election Methods list 

     Here is the latest update from CV&D

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - at http://www.mich.com/~donald

---------- Forwarded message ---------


To:     CV&D
From: Rob Richie, Executive Director http://www.igc.org/cvd
Re:     Oregon's campaign for proportional representation

Two months ago, Steve Hill - our west coast coordinator --
travelled in Oregon with Blair Bobier, coordinator of 
Oregonians For Fair & Equal Representation. OFFER 
is seeking to put a European-style PR plan for Oregon 
state legislative elections on the 1998 ballot. Although 
the campaign is in its early stages and is confronting the 
inevitable ignorance about proportional systems that is 
common in the U.S., Steve was very impressed with
the program of events that was organized for him and
by the chief organizers' level of commitment.

Following is a letter from Blair about the campaign.
I should say that there will be other initiative campaigns 
for proportional systems in the United States in 1998,
including likely ones for preference voting in New 
York City and Santa Monica (CA) and the ongoing
effort in Seattle (WA). As Blair knows, I'm also frankly 
a little skeptical about putting a "closed list"
statewide PR system on the ballot right now, given 
Americans'  wariness of political parties and typical
interest in some degree of geographic representation.

But the campaign is putting PR before Oregonians in
a dramatic way, and sparking serious debate. And who
knows, maybe Americans' frustration with current money-
laden, personality-driven "monopoly" politics makes the
time right for the kind of dramatic change OFFER 
proposes. The plan's simplicity certainly allows the
debate to stay focused on the big issues, not the
details of the workings of the PR plan.

I urge you to read over the letter and respond as you
see fit. And if you have comments for either Blair or
me, please let us hear from you.

best regards, Rob
Dear Friend of Democracy,
        Supporters of Proportional Representation have a unique and 
exciting opportunity to advance PR in the U.S.
         A multi-party coalition in the pioneering state of Oregon have 
filed a ballot initiative to establish PR elections for the Oregon House 
of Representatives.  The campaign, even in this early phase, has already 
generated a great deal of media coverage and excitement.  News stories 
and opinion pieces have prominently appeared in the state's largest 
newspapers with bold headlines such as "FULL SPECTRUM VOTING," "TWO PARTY 
publications like In These Times to the monthly newsletter of the Oregon 
Public Employees' Union, a wide cross-section of people are learning more 
and more about PR as a result of this campaign.
        The coalition responsible for the initiative, Oregonians For Fair 
& Equal Representation (OFFER), is comprised of citizens and a diversity 
of independent political parties including the Green-affiliated Pacific 
Party and the Libertarian and Socialist parties of Oregon.  It will take 
approximately 98,000 valid signatures, collected by July, to place the 
initiative on the November, 1998 general election ballot.
        Interestingly, Oregon is probably the only state in the union 
with a PR provision already in it's Constitution.  Article II, Section 16 
of Oregon's Constitution provides for electing the state Senate by 
preference voting, though this provision has never been used.  OFFER's 
initiative, however, only affects the Oregon House, which will be chosen 
by the voters from statewide party lists.
        At this point, OFFER is focusing on signature gathering and 
putting together a coaltion capable of waging a winning campaign.  Well 
respected public interest groups such as OSPIRG and the Oregon Wildlife 
Federation are poised to join the coalition, which is great news, but we 
still have a long way to go.
        Putting together a winning coalition will require a combination 
of hard work, travel, direct mail, phone banking, polling and pulling in 
a lot of financial contributions to make it all happen.  That's where you 
can help out.  Please join this historic campaign by donating generously 
to OFFER.  Several supporters have been able to donate $1000 each to the 
campaign while others have given what they're able to--from $25 on up.  
Any contribution at all, of any amount, will go a long way and be greatly 
        The Oregon campaign is serving as a spark and catalyst for the 
nationwide PR effort.  Please help ignite the flame:  make out a check to 
OFFER and mail it to PO Box 1159, Lebanon, OR 97355.
        If you have any questions, feel free to email me at b2 at peak.org 
or call me at 541.758.9155.
        Oregon is an independent, progressive and pioneering state.  
Ralph Nader did his nationwide best here in '96, Perot got 23% of the 
presidential vote here in '92 and independent voters are the fastest 
growing segment of the electorate.  Oregon is also a land of firsts:  the 
first bottle bill, the first statewide land-use planning and--with *your* 
help--the first state to adopt Proportional Representation.  Please join 
us and help however you can.  Thanks.

Blair Bobier, Coordinator
Oregonians For Fair & Equal Representation

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