[EM] CVD Comments on IRV Mar. 11, 2002

DEMOREP1 at aol.com DEMOREP1 at aol.com
Tue Mar 12 12:17:27 PST 2002

March 11, 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
         - Links 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 volunteer energy and 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, 51of 54 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. Our New England
regional director Terry Bouricius did masterful work on this
effort on a shoestring budget.
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:
the University of Illinois and Carleton College recently adopted
reforms, joining such universities as Harvard, MIT, Princeton,
UC-Berkeley, Stanford 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 affiliates in South Carolina, Maryland
and Virginia 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
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Rob Richie, Executive Director
The Center for Voting & Democracy
rr at fairvote.org, www.fairvote.org

6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 610
Takoma Park, MD 20912
(301) 270-4616

"Make Your Vote Count!"

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