[EM] Fair Elections Newsflash: Big Wins for Instant Runoff Voting (FWD)

DEMOREP1 at aol.com DEMOREP1 at aol.com
Thu Mar 7 23:23:13 PST 2002

>From CVD---

(Greetings to CVD members. We are preparing

to send this out through our new bulk email program,

but it's proving a little balky, so we'd at least like to

make sure this very good news reaches all of you!

Please feel encouraged to share it as you see fit....

And thanks again for your support!)

March 7, 2002

To:   Friends of Fair Elections

Fr:    Rob Richie, rr at fairvote.org, Executive Director

         Center for Voting and Democracy, www.fairvote.org

         Takoma Park, Maryland

Re:   - Ground-breaking wins for instant runoff voting

          - Llinks and news shorts

(This update should only be going to people interested in

receiving it. Please see the message at the end if this is not the

case. At the same time, please feel encouraged to share this

news with your friends -- good news should get around!)

History was made on March 5, when more than 56% of San

Francisco voters gave a big thumb's up to adopting instant

runoff voting for electing their most important offices,

including mayor. Across the country, voters in 50 cities and 

towns in rural Vermont endorsed a proposal to use instant

runoff voting (IRV) for electing statewide offices.

Despite well-financed by defenders of the status quo who spent

perhaps as much as $100,000 or more trying to confuse voters

with slick mailings, San Francisco now becomes the first 

major American city to use IRV to elect its officials. It replaces 

two-round runoff elections that cost more than a million dollars

a year, lead to low voter turnout and negative campaigning and 

exacerbate campaign financing demands. Depending on the 

capacity of the City's Department of Elections, IRV will be used 

either this fall or in November 2003.

Center for Voting and Democracy staff members Steven Hill

and Caleb Kleppner developed a remarkable grassroots

campaign, full of youthful energy that delivered more than

125,000 door-hangers in targeted precincts around the city.

Leading civic organizations and elected officials rose to the

challenge as well; endorsers included Rep. Kevin Shelley, who

won the Democratic Party nomination for Secretary of State

this week, and the Sierra Club, San Francisco Labor Council,

Common Cause, NOW, Congress of California Seniors,

Chinese for Affirmative Action, Latino Democratic Club,

Libertarian Party, Democratic Party, Green Party and CalPIRG.

In Vermont, 50 of 53 town meetings supported a League of

Women Voters-sponsored proposal to use IRV for electing

statewide offices. Vermont IRV backers range from Democratic

Governor Howard Dean and Secretary of State Deborah

Markowitz to 2000 Republican gubernatorial nominee Ruth

Dwyer, Common Cause and the Grange. 

Instant runoff voting (IRV) has the potential to crack

open electoral politics to new voices and better choices. Used

for major elections in Australia, Ireland and Great Britain, IRV

ensures that candidates win with majority support in one

efficient election. Voters indicate both their favorite and their

runoff choices on the same ballot. If no candidate receives a

winning majority of first choices, the weak candidates are

eliminated. Just as in a delayed runoff, their supporters choose

among the runoff finalists as indicated by the next-choices 

preferences marked on their ballots. Voters who ranked 

one of the finalists first continue to have their votes count 

for their favorite choice. 

You can read much more about instant runoff voting, the win in

San Francisco and the near-sweep of Vermont town meeting

votes on-line. Please see:

* The Center's news release and two pre-election articles at 


* A range of news and information about instant runoff voting

at: http://www.fairvote.org/irv

* The San Francisco campaign's website at


* Coverage at http://www.alternet.org, http://www.tompaine.com 

and http://www.thenation.com/thebeat

You also will enjoy reading an on-the-spot reaction to the

victory by Dan Johnson-Weinberger, the Center's national field

director, below.


Later this month we plan to send an update with a range of

helpful links and information about our full range of work later

this month and then begin a short, monthly update. As

previews, we urge you to visit our 

* all-state redistricting guide, with news about how this

redistricting cycle has been the worst in decades for restricting

voter choice and expanded representation (the report is at


and a widely-published commentary is 

at http://fairvote.org/op_eds/monitorjan02.htm

* news about the growing movement to institute instant runoff

voting and/or proportional representation for student elections -

- University of Illinois and Carleton College recently adopted

reforms, joining such universities as Harvard, MIT, Princeton,

UC-Berkeley and University of Wisconsin (see


* examples of websites being developed in order to 

allow people to use instant runoff voting election on-line 

(http://www.demochoice.org and http://www.purpletech.com/irv)

Short news items from recent weeks include

-- The Utah Republican Party State Central Committee earlier

this year amended its bylaws to enable the use of instant runoff

voting in neighborhood precinct caucuses where state and

county delegates and precinct officers are elected.

- More than a dozen states have debated instant runoff voting

legislation in 2001-2. New legislation was introduced this year

in Florida, Washington (where a well-attended hearing was

held in January)

- It's an important time for congressional action on campaign

finance reform and electoral reform. Among many, good

website resources to track these developments include:

http://www.electionline.org (ElectionLine.Org), 

http://www.opensecrets.org (Center for Responsive Politics), 

http://www.demos-usa.org (Demos), 

http://www.constitutionproject.org/eri/index.htm (Constitution

    Project Election Reform Initiative)

- The Scottish Executive will forge ahead with plans to

introduce proportional representation for local government

elections. Scotland, Wales and London all had used

proportional representation for their most recent elections.


- Pakistan will have elections for the first time in several years

later this year. Elections have used only winner-take-all

elections, but with separate rolls. Now proportional

representation will be used to elect "reserved seats" for women

and technocrats. Many in Pakistan want to go farther

toward proportional representation


- CVD staff and board members continue to speak regularly

before organizations, students and elected officials - recent and

upcoming talks include those at Duke, Princeton, Georgetown

Law School, University of Indiana, George Washington Law

School, the NAACP of Alexandria and national election 

administration conferences in Florida and Washington, DC. 

Contact CVD at eric at fairvote.org or (301) 270-4616 for more information.

- Finally, our remarkable chairman, John B. Anderson, celebrated

his 80th birthday last month. A guest on C-SPAN in January,

John's year-end message to organizational members can be

read at:  http://fairvote.org/e_news/2001yearend.htm

This week's victories certainly are a wonderful gift for John.

Stay tuned for more news about reform and the Center's plans

for 2002. And of course, as a non-profit organization in

the midst of some exciting projects, we need support from

the public. To learn how to support the Center, see

http://fairvote.org/donate.htm, and enjoy Dan Johnson-

Weinberger's message to activists late on the night of 

March 5th in San Francisco, 


How Sweet is... Victory in San Francisco! From the Center's

national field director Dan Johnson-Weinberger.

>From the campaign in San Francisco right now -- there's

champagne flowing, there's wild celebration and I can't believe

it. I can't believe it!! We probably won!

This is a new movement for American democracy. This is the

real deal. This is a real movement. We've all been a part of it.

And we did it with heart and soul and sweat and dollars and

effort. And I'm telling you, the Prop A campaign had the

BEST grass-roots campaign of anyone in the entire city.

ANYONE. We had 1000 phone calls made from people all

over the country. We had small checks sent in from all over

the country. This is amazing.

This is awesome. Unless you hear back from me in the next



Absolutely delighted and honored to be a part of the movement

for democracy,  Dan Johnson-Weinberger


(To unsubscribe from this list, please hit reply and say

"unsubscribe." To ask to be on this list, please send a note to

info at fairvote.org. Thank you!)

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list