[EM] FWD CV&D Update

Donald E Davison donald at mich.com
Fri Jul 23 01:30:06 PDT 1999

  ----------- Forwarded Update -----------
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 18:36:07 -0400
From: Rob Richie <FairVote at compuserve.com>
Subject: CVD Update, 7/22/99
Sender: Rob Richie <FairVote at compuserve.com>

July 22, 1999

To:   Center for Voting and Democracy Key List
Fr:   Rob Richie, Executive Director, www.fairvote.org
Re:   News and comment on election reform: UK News,
         a Republican on Mel Watt's bill, IRV initiative, etc

I hope your summer goes well. Below is a summary of
some recent developments and a few documents I thought
would be of interest. The documents are:

- A Washington Post commentary by CVD's Eric Olson advocating
instant runoff voting for local elections in a Maryland county

- A summary of the growth in interest in alternative voting methods
within the League of Women Voters by CVD advisory committee
member Steve Chessin.

- A thoughtful commentary by Roy Jenkins, the head of the British
commission that last year recommended a semi-proportional system
called "AV-Plus" (essentially,  instant runoff voting, with add-on seats
to make results more proportional within regions)

- The July 1999 update from the Electoral Reform Society in
Britain on the latest on electoral reform in the United Kingdom.
Among important developments of the month are:

* Rep. Tom Campbell (CA) has become the first Republican
co-sponsor of Rep. Mel Watt's States' Choice of Voting
Systems Act (HR 1173). The bill has 14 co-sponsors; one
additional co-sponsor, Rep. George Brown, passed away last week.

* An initiative has been filed with the Secretary of State in
Alaska to enact instant runoff voting for all state and federal
elections. After the initiative receives a title and description
from the Secretary of State, signature-gathering will
commence; if successful, the measure likely would be
on the November 2000 ballot.
       Instant runoff voting is being disussed more and more,
particularly as it becomes more likely that prominent
individuals will seek the presidency as minor party nominees.
Rush Limbaugh on his radio show said that he thought
instant runoff voting was a "great idea."

* CVD has expanded its staff. Caleb Kleppner is director
of our instant runoff voting project, at least through August.
Caleb can be contacted at calebk at fairvote.org. Caryl-Sue
Micalizio will begin work as our special projects manager
in mid-August. Robert Loring is now our webmaster/library manager
(LoringRbt at aol.com.). Terry Bouricius is a CVD consultant
through December 1999; his work focuses on instant runoff
voting in Vermont. They join Eric Olson (deputy director,
cvderic at aol.com), Fred McBride (southern regional director,
cvdmcbride at aol.com), Hortencia Quinonez Wrampelmeier
(Texas project director), Steven Hill (west coast director,
shill at fairvote.org) and myself (executive director,
fairvote at compuserve.com). We also have been fortunate
to have two excellent summer associates: Jen Gartner and
David Knight. For the time being, we are unlikely to hire new
staff, but are accepting applications to keep on file and
seeking interns for the rest of the year.
       In addition, CVD has been working closely with the
Midwest Democracy Center, based in Chicago, which focuses
its work on cumulative voting, instant runoff voting and voter
registration reform. Its director is Dan Johnson-Weinberger
(proportionalrepresentation at msn.com).
       Special thanks to the individual donors and the foundations
that have made this possible. Among those supporters are
the Arca Foundation, Ford Foundation, HKH Foundation, Open
Society Institute, Solidago Foundation and Stewart Mott Charitable Trust.

* Among current projects:

         - We are preparing to release our "Monopoly Politics: 2000"
in the coming weeks. It will have powerful information explaining
why so few House races are competitive, where money has an
impact on election results, how district demographics explain
behavior of representatives and more.

         - We are completing a public interest guide to redistricting
in the coming reapportionment. It will include maps, essays
and a state-by-state analysis of laws and politics.

         - Fred McBride has made presentations at a number of
venues since starting work in May; last week, he was on a
panel at the NAACP convention. In early August, he will be
in Amarillo, Texas for a series of events organized by Hortencia
Wrampelmeier; Amarillo adopted cumulative voting for school
board elections earlier this year. He will have a busy fall, with
regular trips and presentations throughout the south, particularly
in conjuntion with collaborative projects with the Southern
Regional Council and Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy.

         - The web site (www.fairvote.org) continues to improve. We
soon will have a series of sample "super district" congressional
maps, along with expanded coverage of our Monopoly Politics
report  and our report on redistricting

         - We are creating a series of short educational pamphlets
and factsheets on proportional representation, instant runoff
voting, redistricting, vote-by-mail and more. We also are
working on a video on redistricting; clips of this video
and others should be on our web site soon.

         - And much more!

Best regards,
"Instant Runoff Voting"
Washington Post, Sunday, July 18, 1999

County councils in Prince George's and Montgomery this
year have considered how best to fill council vacancies.

In Prince George's, council member Thomas Hendershot
(D-New Carrollton) introduced a proposal to replace an
unwieldy one-round, free-for-all election with a partisan
primary and a general election.

In Montgomery, council members agreed to two-round
runoffs this spring. Montgomery County also increased
the requirements for candidates to get on the ballot to
one percent of registered voters, out of fear that "fringe"
candidates could "spoil" a special election.

The problem in our democracy, however, is not how
many candidates are in a race but that the elections
system does not provide any mechanism to ensure
that a winning candidate receives majority support.
A winning candidate in a crowded field should not
come out with 18, 24 or even 40 percent of the vote.
That is no kind of mandate.

Special elections are notorious for drawing large
numbers of candidates -- and the more candidates,
the more likely the winner will receive a sliver of the vote.
This undermines how well new officeholders reflect
their constituency.

Runoff elections are the right approach, but two-round
runoffs are beset with problems. One, recently experienced
in a Louisiana special election, is electoral fatigue:
Some voters turn out for the primary but not for the
general election. Turnout plummeted in the runoff
election between former governor and ex-member
of Congress David Treen and the lesser-known
state representative David Vitter, who won.

Two-round runoffs also are costly. Prince George's
officials estimate that an additional primary election
costs $75,000 to $90,000. Further, two election rounds
mean that candidates must raise and spend more
money to run for office.

A simple reform, which Hendershot and the Prince
George's County Council are studying, called instant
runoff voting, can solve all these problems. This
system operates like a series of runoff elections,
but requires voters to come to the poll only once;
when it's coupled with voting by mail, voters don't
even have to leave home.

Instant runoff voting maximizes voter turnout in one
decisive election. It allows individuals to rank
candidates in order of their preference: 1, 2, 3, etc.
If at the end of the first tally, no candidate receives
a majority of the vote, the candidate with the fewest
number of first-place votes is eliminated. Votes cast
for that candidate then are distributed to whomever
the voters designated as their second choice.

Instant runoff voting  is used to elect Australian
members of Parliament and the Irish president,
among others, and next year it will be used to
elect the mayor of London. A similar method is
used for local elections in Cambridge, Mass.

Leaders in Prince George's and Montgomery are
right to want to correct the failings of conventional
special-election systems. In the interest of democracy,
fiscal responsibility and campaign reform, both
counties have a great opportunity to improve the
electoral process for special elections by adopting
instant runoff voting.

-- Eric C. Olson is a member of the College Park City
Council and deputy director of the Center for Voting and Democracy
"LWV Election Studies Sweep the Nation"

A seed was planted at the LWVUS Convention in San Diego last year, as
over ninety League leaders from around the country attended one of the
four caucus sessions on proportional representation and other election
systems.  That seed has sprouted and is beginning to bear fruit, as six
states (so far) have adopted election-related studies or taken
election-related positions at their state conventions.

The exact same day that LWV California adopted a study of election
systems, LWV Illinois adopted a study of the effects of their 1980
Cutback Amendment, which reduced the size of their legislature and as a
side effect abolished the use of cumulative voting (a semi-proportional
election system) in electing that legislature.  Their study will include
an examination of cumulative voting.

Three weeks later, LWV Georgia adopted a study of election systems,
using the same motion that failed at the LWVUS Convention last year.
To show that no good deed goes unpunished, the study proponent was
elected State President.  At the same time, LWV Vermont adopted a
consensus resolution endorsing the use of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV)
in all statewide single-seat races (such as Governor).  This is the
first state League in recent history to endorse the use of an election
system that uses a ranked ballot.

The following week, LWV Maryland adopted an election process study;
they will look at how other states and countries register voters and
allow people to vote (days, times, methods) in order to expand voting
opportunities.  While not a study of election systems, it is an
election-related study in the spirit of Making Democracy Work
(increasing voter turnout).

And a week later, on 20 June 1999, LWV Washinton added itself to the
growing list of state Leagues adopting studies of election systems.
Their study is entitled "An Evaluation of Major Election Methods and
Examination of Selected State Election Laws".  It, too, was a
non-recommended item.

I expect to see well-attended meetings of the Election System Study
caucus at LWVUS 2000 in Washington, as all of us doing studies meet to
compare notes, and perhaps even consideration on the convention floor
of a national study of election systems!

--Steve Chessin
Member, LWV Los Altos - Mountain View Area (CA)

[NOTE: The LWV-MichiganI Convention adopted a proposal for
a review and update of LWVMI election laws position.]"

The Guardian (UK), July 14, 1999
"A vote for reform," by Lord Roy Jenkins

It is a feature of this government that attention switches on and off
different issues like the revolving beam of a lighthouse. This I think
is largely a function of its being an exceptionally prime minister
dominated government, with a weak cabinet lower half and an even
weaker tail outside.

It cannot however be said to be a weak government, for it mostly
"makes the political weather", in Joseph Chamberlain's famous
phrase. It reverses Harold Macmillan's dictum that it was "events"
mostly unwelcome, which made the course of politics. Now it is
more that the government makes events, and not always wisely.

It cannot be said that electoral reform has recently been within the
lighthouse beam of the prime minister. He set up, with some
enthusiasm, the commission over which I was asked to preside,
but it has since been "put on the back burner", or "kicked into the
long grass", according to which metaphor for the diversion of
attention is preferred.

There is also a false assumption that the over-frequent elections
of this spring have damaged the case for electoral reform. That
has no validity. There may well have been too many elections for
the present level of political enthusiasm; the turn-out in the
European elections was clearly a minor disaster but there is no
evidence that this was due to the new system.

The Leeds parliamentary by-election, taking place on the same
day under all the alleged "glories" of first past the post and with,
it is generally agreed, a good and winning Labour candidate,
produced an even lower turn-out, indeed probably the all-time
record low on a valid comparison.

Nor did the proportional system contribute to the Labour debacle
in the European elections. The main cause of that was the
unwillingness of the Labour campaign managers to mount a
serious argument in favour of the pro-European policy of the
government, and therefore to leave the ground open for occupation
by the thin but dedicated forces of the Europe haters.

Under the old system the result would not merely have been a
debacle for Labour: it would have been a catastrophe. They might
well have got only 15 seats to the Conservatives' 67, with no Liberal
Democrats allowed even a sniff of representation. To argue that
this would have been a better result is a hard task for even the
most determined Labour opponent of electoral reform.

The Scottish outcome on the other hand I regard as highly satisfactory.
Proportional representation prevented the old Labour juggernaut of
greater Glasgow from governing on its own. But without a likelihood
of this there would not have been nearly such a satisfactory result
in the devolution referendum.

A coalition was made necessary, but it was formed with despatch
and without squalor. And the new parliament, despite a great deal
of malevolent croaking beforehand, has been launched with panache.

Furthermore, there is a strong likelihood that the Scottish coalition
will introduce electoral reform for local authority elections, where it is
overwhelmingly necessary. And that, in turn, can hardly fail to provide
cross-fertilisation south of the border, where such reform is just as

The question is whether it is then sensible or desirable for the House
of Commons to hold out as an isolated bastion, the outworks, whether
the Scottish parliament, the Welsh assembly, the European parliament,
the London assembly and, maybe, the local authorities having been
conceded to the forces of rationality.

I wholly understand why the House of Commons has been reluctant
to embrace its own reform. That has been a characteristic of political
oligarchies throughout the centuries. And, indeed, I think it is
remarkable that a political party which, two years ago, won the
haphazard jackpot of getting 419 seats with barely 43% of the vote,
should have gone so far as it has to appoint my commission, to give
an undertaking to consider its recommendations seriously and to
have a referendum upon them.

It is a considerable improvement upon the previous record of all parties.
But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and that is now the test
which faces the Labour government.

I also understand that, given the recommendations of the commission,
they cannot be implemented for the next election. I do not therefore react
violently against the government postponing the referendum on electoral
reform until after the next election. What I do strongly contest is the
that the subject should be buried in the interim.

I believe a referendum can be won, provided the government is in favour -
and it will look an ass if it proposes a referendum and is then either
hostile or neutral - but only if the ground is prepared and the argument
currently sustained. That is why the Make Votes Count campaign is
so important. The lighthouse beam, if the issue is to be a credit rather
than a discredit to the government, must be less flickering.

• Lord Jenkins of Hillhead will be delivering the first annual Make Votes
Count lecture on the Birth of New Politics tonight at 6.30pm, Church House

The Electoral Reform Society's Electoral Bulletin
July 1999  [shortened]

Scottish Local Government

The McIntosh Commission on 'Local Government and the Scottish
Parliament' published its report at the end of June. On the electoral
system for local government in Scotland the Commission recommended that:

· Proportional representation (PR) should be introduced for local
elections. A review should be set up immediately to identify the most
appropriate voting system for Scottish local government. Legislation
should be in place for the next local government elections in 2002 to be
held by PR.

· The new voting system should meet the following criteria:
proportionality, councillor-ward link, fair provision for independents,
allowance for geographical diversity and a close fit between council
wards and natural communities.

· Of the possible electoral systems, Additional Member System (AMS),
Single Transferable Vote (STV) and Alternative Vote Plus (AV+) should be
given particular consideration.

· Greater flexibility should be given to the Local Government Boundary
Commission in determining ward boundaries.

Wendy Alexander MSP, Minister for Communities, leading the debate in the
Scottish Parliament on the McIntosh Report (2.7.99) stated that they
would set up a working party on Renewing Local Democracy to look at the

· Ways in which becoming a councillor can become more attractive to a
wider cross-section of the community.

· Election systems for local authorities and membership of councils,
bearing in mind the four criteria laid down by the McIntosh Commission.

· Appropriate remuneration for a councillor that rewards real leadership
and takes account of available resources.

Campaign for Electoral Reform for Local Government

A new cross-party campaign dedicated to delivering a new voting system
for local government was launched at the Local Government Association
Conference in Harrogate on Wednesday 7th July.

The Campaign is supported by the ERS, the New Local Government Network
and Make Votes Count. The following day the LGA passed a consultative
motion seeking to introduce an element of proportionality into local

Electronic Voting and London

The Government Office for London announced a shortlist of four suppliers
to provide electronic equipment for the May 2000 elections for the
London Mayor and Assembly. It is likely that these elections will be the
first to be held in the UK using electronic equipment.  For more
information contact the ERS or http://www.detr.gov.uk
    [NOTE FROM CVD: The London mayoral election will be held using
a form of instant runoff voting. The assembly election will be held
using a mixed member proportional system.]

European Elections

The turnout for the European Parliamentary elections was disappointing
with only 23% of the electorate in Great Britain bothering to vote. This
is in contrast to Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic where turnout
was 57% and 55%. Northern Ireland continued to use STV rather than
changing to the "closed" list system.

It should be noted that the Parliamentary By-election in Leeds Central
that was held on the same day had a 19% turnout.

The "closed list" system used for the first time continued to be
controversial with British voters voting for political parties rather
than for individual candidates for the first time. The Government is now
conducting a review and the Society hopes that they will include the
"closed" lists within the review.

European Election Results June 1999

         Labour  Plaid Cymru  Green  Lib Dems  Con   UKIP
 % vote    28.7      27.2       5.8     9.8    19.8   1.3
 % seats   37.5      25.0       0.0    12.5    25.0   0.0

 % vote    31.9      29.6       2.6     8.2    22.8    3.1
 % seats   40.0      40.0       0.0     0.0    20.0    0.0

North East
 % vote    42.1       0.0       4.7    13.5    27.4    8.8
 % seats   75.0       0.0       0.0     0.0    25.0    0.0

North West
 % vote    34.5       0.0       5.6    11.7    35.4    6.6
 % seats   40.0       0.0       0.0    10.0    50.0    0.0

 % vote    31.3       0.0       5.7    14.4    36.6    7.1
 % seats   42.9       0.0       0.0    14.3    42.9    0.0

West Midlands
 % vote    28.0       0.0       5.8    11.3    37.9    5.8
 % seats   37.5       0.0       0.0    12.5    50.0    0.0

East Midlands
 % vote    28.6       0.0       5.4    12.8    39.5    7.6
 % seats   33.3       0.0       0.0    16.7    50.0    0.0

 % vote    35.0       0.0       7.7    11.7    32.7    5.4
 % seats   40.0       0.0      10.0    10.0    40.0    0.0

 % vote    32.0       0.0       5.5    12.5    36.2    6.9
 % seats   42.9       0.0       0.0    11.4    45.7    0.0

 % vote    25.2       0.0       6.2    11.9    42.7    8.9
 % seats   25.0       0.0       0.0    12.5    50.0   12.5

South East
 % vote    19.6       0.0       7.4    15.3    44.4    9.7
 % seats   18.2       0.0       9.1    18.2    45.5    9.1

South West
 % vote    18.1       0.0       8.3    16.5    41.7   10.6
 % seats   14.3       0.0       0.0    14.3    57.1   14.3

 % vote    24.2       0.0       7.4    14.0    40.6    8.7
 % seats   25.0       0.0       5.6    13.9    47.2    8.3

Total England
 % vote    27.7       0.0       6.6    13.3    38.6    7.9
 % seats   33.8       0.0       2.8    12.7    46.5    4.2

Total United Kingdom
 % vote    28.0       4.5       6.3    12.7    35.8    7.0
 % seats   34.5       4.8       2.4    11.9    42.9    3.6

For more information contact:
    Peter Facey,
    Parliamentary Officer, Electoral Reform Society
    0171 928 1622
    Web:    www.electoral-reform.org.uk
    E-mail: ers at reform.demon.co.uk

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