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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Fault Lines
Measure O is Good for the Asian Community
This November, Oakland voters will have an opportunity to vote on Measure O, which will greatly improve Oakland elections. Measure O will increase voter turnout, save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, and improve the quality of political campaigns. Asian communities in Oakland will greatly benefit from the passage of Measure O.
The problem with our elections is that officeholders usually are elected in the June primary when voter turnout is extremely low. In the last June election, only a third (33 percent) of eligible voters voted. Yet that small electorate decided the winners for everyone else. Voter turnout in November elections (when national and state races are decided) is much higher than June.
Not only that, but a recent study found that for communities of color, voter turnout in June has been only half the turnout in November elections. While the turnout for Asian voters is improving, we still have relatively lower turnouts. In Oakland’s June 2004 election voter turnout in predominantly Asian precincts was 20% lower than turnout in predominantly white precincts. With most contests being decided in June, minority voters are not having their voices heard.
For those races that require both a June election and a November runoff, administering two elections can cost hundreds of thousands of extra tax dollars -- money that could be better spent on other city services. And holding two elections instead of one is costly to candidates, giving an advantage to candidates that can raise more money, undermining campaign finance reform.
The solution to these problems with Oakland democracy is Measure O. Measure O implements an innovative reform called Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) to achieve the worthy goal of electing winners who have a majority of the popular vote -- except we finish in one election in November, when voter turnout is highest.