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Wednesday, August 15, 2007
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Event Type:
Bob Richards
(415) 256 - 9393
Location Details:
meeting could shorter

It's the Aroma Cafe at 1122 4th Street, between A and B Streets. in downtown San Rafael.

you haft to do some searching amoung others there

FW:Marin Ranked Voting's August meeting is Wednesday, August 15 at 7:00pm. Note our special summer meeting place (while College of Marin is in recess). It's the Aroma Cafe at 1122 4th Street, between A and B Streets. in downtown San Rafael.

Everyone interested in better ways of choosing public officials is encouraged to drop by.

FW:Please heed the urgent call to action below. Marin's senator, Carole Migden, voted for AB 1294 in the Elections Committee on July 10. We should let her know how much we will appreciate her support for the bill on the Senate floor as well. At least as important, Appropriations Committee chair Tom Torlakson needs to hear from citizens all over the state, not just in his own district.

--Bob Richard

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob Dickinson, Californians for Electoral Reform [mailto:rdickinson [at]]
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2007 6:50 AM
To: Marin Ranked Voting
Subject: Help Electoral Reform Legislation in California Senate
Importance: High

Take Action Today: Support Key Electoral Reform Legislation in California
AB 1294 — Mullin and Leno — Local Option for Ranked Voting
Urge Your Senator To Support and Co-Author AB 1294
Urge Senate Appropriations Chair Tom Torlakson To Support and Co-Author AB 1294
AB 1294 is CfER's bill to allow cities and counties to use ranked voting systems, including instant runoff voting and choice voting. We are very pleased that the California Assembly passed AB 1294 in June and that the Senate Elections Committee passed the bill out of that key policy committee in early July. Another critical milestone is coming up in August, and we need your help.
We need your help to move AB 1294 in the California Senate. We need you to make two contacts today in the state Senate.
Please contact Senator Tom Torlakson, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and urge him to support the bill when it is heard in committee on August 20th. Please contact his office soon, as we want to win his support well before the committee hearing.
Senator Tom Torlakson,
Chair, Senate Appropriations Committee
Postal: State Capitol, Room 5050, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4007
Fax: (916) 445-2527
Email: Senator.Torlakson [at]
For more information, see Background or Talking Points or Supporters below. A sample letter appears below.

Please contact your state Senator today and urge his or her support for the bill. In addition, please ask that they co-author the bill, and provide them with the co-author request letter available at
You can call, fax, email, or send a postal letter to them. Written comments, especially handwritten letters, have the greatest impact, but do whatever works for you.
For contact information for your Senator, please view the Senate roster available at:
You can find out who your Senator is using your address or a map at:
If your senator is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee (i.e. Senators Torlakson (Chair), Cox, Aanestad, Ashburn, Battin, Cedillo, Corbett, Dutton, Florez, Kuehl, Oropeza, Ridley-Thomas, Runner, Simitian, Steinberg,, Wyland, Yee), be sure to ask them to support the bill when it is heard in committee on August 20th.
AB 1294, introduced by Assembly Members Mullin (D-19) and Leno (D-13), would allow all cities and counties to use ranked voting systems to elect their representatives. The bill would allow these jurisdictions to use Instant Runoff Voting for single-winner elections or Choice Voting (a ranked voting system similar to IRV) for multiple-winner elections. It would also add to the state Elections Code the guidelines and procedures that registrars and equipment vendors need to count and report ranked voting elections.
AB 1294 passed in the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting on April 17th and passed through the Committee on Appropriations on May 9th. The bill passed in the full Assembly on June 6th. The bill then moved to the Senate, where it passed out of the Senate Elections Committee on July 10th. It now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 20th.
In addition to the successful votes above, we are also very pleased that a number of other legislators have signed on as co-authors of the bill, including Assembly Members Mike Davis, Loni Hancock, Jared Huffman, Betty Karnette, John Laird, Fiona Ma, and Lois Wolk, in addition to the principle authors Gene Mullin and Mark Leno.
This bill is important in that most local jurisdictions are not able to use ranked voting systems under current law, and this bill would permit them to do so. Today only charter counties or charter cities can use IRV, but over three-fourths of cities and counties are general law jurisdictions and don't have these options. Over half of Californians live in a general law city, a general law county, or both. AB 1294 would give these jurisdictions these additional options, but would not mandate that any jurisdictions use these systems. In other words, it is simply permissive and gives local governments the tools they need to respond to the wishes of their voters.
Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) ensures that the winner of a single-winner election has the support of the majority of voters in a single election. By eliminating the need for a costly runoff election it saves local governments a lot of money -- about $1.6M per election in San Francisco alone. IRV also eliminates vote-splitting and spoiler effects, both of which undermine the public's confidence in the political process. Finally, IRV helps promote positive, issue-based campaigns with less negative campaigning because candidates will seek 2nd and 3rd choice votes in addition to 1st choice votes.
San Francisco has used Instant Runoff Voting extremely successfully for three consecutive elections, and all academic and survey research shows that the results have been excellent. San Francisco voters understood IRV extremely well, used it effectively, and overwhelmingly prefer it to the old two-round runoff system that they had used for decades.

Given the momentum for ranked voting building around the country -- shown last November in Oakland, Davis, Minneapolis (MN) and Pierce County (WA) -- this bill comes at an excellent time.

1) IRV has an extremely successful track record in its usage in San Francisco

All of the available research and surveys of the usage of IRV in San Francisco support the fact that every single demographic in the city -- defined by where they live and their race, age, gender, party and political philosophy -- preferred IRV to the old runoff system. In fact, voters prefer IRV by a three-to-one margin over the old system. Over 87% of voters said that they understood IRV perfectly well or fairly well, and voters two-to-one perceived the instant runoff voting system as more fair than the prior two-round runoff system. So from the standpoint of voter acceptance, ranked voting has proven exceptional in the last three elections in San Francisco. And in addition to this local usage, over 25 million people worldwide use IRV and have done so for many decades, showing that this is not something on the bleeding edge, but rather a proven system gaining acceptance in California and other states.

2) IRV can lead to dramatic improvements in voter participation

One of the arguments that legislators are finding particularly compelling about the bill is the potential for dramatic improvement in voter turnout as a result of using ranked voting, especially among minority communities. San Francisco saw an estimated effective tripling of voter participation overall as a result of using ranked voting (and being able to combine two elections into a single election), and as much as a quadrupling of turnout among minority and low-income neighborhoods. Significant improvements seem likely in other jurisdictions as well, and also for local elections which coincide with the statewide primary and general elections. For an analysis of how IRV led to significant improvements in voter turnout in San Francisco, see:

3) IRV can save local governments considerable money
There is a significant potential for cost savings by eliminating the need for expensive runoff elections, often elections with single-digit voter turnout. San Francisco alone saves around $1.6 million per election, which is real money when we are talking about local government budgets. In Los Angeles County, they had a recent runoff election for local government offices that cost $5 million dollars and only had 6% voter turnout.
4) Cities and counties deserve the opportunity to use the electoral systems that best address their unique needs . Currently, only charter cities have this opportunity, and it should be extended to all local governments. Giving general law jurisdictions the right to improve their election procedures would open up valuable new opportunities for them to achieve more representative democracy and better government. Allowing local jurisdictions to demonstrate improvements to their electoral processes allows the whole state to benefit and see what works best.

5) Our current voting systems suffer from a variety of deficits, including vote splitting and spoiler effects, and unequal representation. Spoiler and vote splitting effects can allow a candidate to be elected where the majority of people would prefer a different candidate. Our winner-take-all electoral systems ensure that a significant percentage of the population is denied representation, and this ultimately undermines the political system. In particular, minority communities suffer the most, and the Choice Voting system allowed by this legislation provides for much greater opportunities for representation than are afforded under our current at-large winner-take-all systems.

6) The lack of uniform election code support for these improved electoral systems is a significant obstacle to cities and counties and other jurisdictions that want to use these systems, and AB 1294 addresses this need. In addition, City and County officials and/or local Registrars are not put in the difficult positions of having to make up such procedures themselves.

7) AB 1294 is broadly supported
See the partial list below of organizations and individuals supporting AB 1294.
Californians for Electoral Reform (sponsor)
Secretary of State Debra Bowen
Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality
Asian Pacific American Legal Center
California Common Cause
California League of Women Voters
California Peace and Freedom Party
California Public Interest Research Group
City Clerks Association of California
City of Davis, CA
City of Fort Bragg
Community Development Institute of East Palo Alto
Davis Choice Voting
Democracy for America
FairVote – the Center for Voting and Democracy
Greenlining Institute
Kevin McKeown, Councilmember, City of Santa Monica
Latinos for America
League of California Cities
Los Angeles Voters for Instant Runoff Elections
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF)
New America Foundation
San Mateo County Democracy for America
Warren Slocum, Chief Elections Officer & Assessor-Clerk-Recorder, San Mateo County
Yolo County Registrar of Voters Freddie Oakley

Sample Letter to Senator Torlakson
Send To: Senator.Torlakson [at]
Subject: Support AB 1294

Dear Senator Torlakson,
I urge you to support AB 1294 when it is considered in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday August 20th, and hope that you will consider co-authoring the bill.
AB 1294 gives cities and counties an option to use Instant Runoff Voting and Choice Voting, two ranked voting systems which have proven themselves to be both good for local governments and good for voters.
Local governments can save a lot of money by being able to elect their representatives in a single election, without the need for a costly runoff election. San Francisco alone saves over $1.6 million per election. Los Angeles just recently held a set of runoff elections that cost around $5 million and only had a 6% voter turnout. That money could be better spent elsewhere, and democracy would be better served by involving more citizens in the process.
In addition, because only a single election is needed, voter turnout improves because the election is held when turnout is highest, thus including more people in the process. An analysis of citywide races in San Francisco before and after Instant Runoff Voting was used showed that voter turnout improved by an estimated 2.7 times.
Finally, Instant Runoff Voting works well, and voters understand it, use it effectively, and like it. Voters in San Francisco preferred IRV by a three to one margin over their previous system, and two to one thought it more fair.

Let's give all local governments the option to use ranked voting. It's only an option, not a mandate, and cities and counties at least deserve a choice.


Thanks again for your help. If you have questions, please contact:
Rob Dickinson
Executive Vice President
Californians for Electoral Reform
Email: rdickinson [at]
Phone: 650-365-6025
Mobile: 650-544-5925

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