E-Newsletter August 1, 2006

Released August 1, 2006
FairVote NewsFlash

Gains for Voting Rights
and Instant Runoff Voting

August 1st 2006


July was a remarkable month for pro-democracy advocates, highlighted by a logjam breaking in Congress that unleashed a torrent of support for reauthorizing and strengthening key provisions of the Voting Rights Act and by a major surge in support for instant runoff voting, one of FairVote's signature reform proposals.

Our e-newsletter reports about this fall's major campaigns for instant runoff voting and a big win in the North Carolina state legislatures. Indeed cities and counties with more than 1.6 million people will vote on IRV this fall, several state legislatures will debate statewide IRV bills in 2007 and dozens of congressional candidates now tell Project Vote Smart they support IRV.

I wanted to highlight one short-term imperative. These campaigns must be supported by grassroots donations so voters can learn more about IRV. For more information on how you can help, see links about the different campaigns on our IRV Victories pages.

My best to you,

ROb Richie's signature
Rob Richie
Executive Director

P.S. I urge you also to take a look at our new annual report: The Way Democracy Will Be . And please copy this message and share it with your friends!
Voting Rights Act Reauthorization signed into law. On July 27, President Bush signed reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. The Senate unanimously passed it on July 20. The law extends for 25 years, key provisions of the original act that protect racial minorities from discriminatory voting practices. The Senate approval came in the wake of a small rebellion of House Members resulting in a delayed vote. As a member of the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights , FairVote strongly backed the legislation.

Instant runoff voting in North Carolina The North Carolina legislature approved a groundbreaking bill this month by voting to test IRV in up to 10 cities and 10 counties in local elections in the 2007-2008. The state also would use IRV to fill vacancies for certain judicial offices that have drawn increased numbers of candidates with the state's public financing system for judicial elections.

Oakland latest major city to vote on instant runoff voting this NovemberOakland's city council voted 6-2 on July 18 to place a measure to adopt IRV for city elections on the November ballot. Oakland joins Minneapolis and Pierce County (WA) in voting on IRV this fall.

Choice voting on the November ballot in Davis (CA) Many of FairVote's successes are on college campuses all around the country. Now change has spilled over from the campus to the community. Students at the University of California- Davis, sparked interest in the city after successfully using choice voting in campus elections. After researching and studying choice voting, and learning about its benefits in terms of fair representation and choice, the Davis City Council members approved of a charter review commission's report, and placed this proportional voting system on the November ballot. See http://www.davischoicevoting.org/

Monopoly Politics 2006 — Sneak Preview FairVote's biannual report shows how America's winner-take-all electoral system results in largely non-competitive elections. The report projects with dead-on accuracy winners and victory margins in House elections using factors such as partisanship and number of terms an incumbent has served; without regard to campaign activity since the past elections. Much as we might to take credit for having an impressive crystal ball, it is the winner-take-all election system in American that creates such deterministic results. One teaser from our upcoming edition: most incumbents received little to no boost in redistricting, but mapmakers helped three-quarters of incumbents who won close races in 2000.

FairVote report helps trigger interest in presidential primary schedule After interest generated by FairVote's report Outside Looking In, the Washington, D.C. City Council passed a Sense of the Council resolution, supporting an early 2008 nomination contest for Washington, D.C., joining backers like Donna Brazile and DC Vote. Democrats instead likely will pick Nevada and South Carolina to join the Iowa and New Hampshire as the states that matter in picking their nominee. FairVote sees the American Plan as the best proposal for 2012.

Amarillo secures cumulative voting for new election The Amarillo Board of Regents and plaintiffs in July signed a consent decree agreeing to use cumulative voting for future elections; the city has had great success with cumulative voting in school board elections since a 1999 consent decree.

FairVote's universal voter registration statute FairVote seeks a voter registration system where the government shares responsibility for registration with its citizens to ensure full and accurate voter rolls. Having 100% registration will address the remarkably low 72% rate of registration among eligible voters that contributes to low turnout and inefficient election administration. FairVote's legal team has developed a proposal for achieving universal registration while allowing an opt-out provision that is based on some state's policies on health care.

Get Involved

  • FairVote has established more ways to get involved with our work

  • Have your state join New York, California, Missouri and Louisiana as among the first to seek to support the National Popular Vote agreement.

  • Want majority rule and spoiler-free voting? Be a part of IRV Victories.

  • Join one of our listservs

  • Notes

  • FairVote tabled at the NAACP Conference and conducted one of our famous IRV polls, this time using choice voting.

  • Rep. John Tanner and FairVote Chair John Anderson held a press conference to discuss reforming redistricting with national legislation.

  • The California Senate may have the opportunity this fall to be the first legislature to pass the national popular vote plan, as covered on page 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle this month.

  • FairVote has created its best annual report ever. You can view it on-line. Other new products include video highlights, including Howard Dean on IRV.

  • Some spots are still available at the at our American Political Science Association “short course” on the Electoral College on August 30 in Philadelphia, featuring leading scholars and Rob Richie. FairVote will be on hand for the whole conference in booth #924.

  • FairVote field director Ryan Griffin visited Rhode Island this month to assist the Latino Political Action Committee in plans to use IRV ballots in its endorsement process.

  • We thank FairVote's interns for a slew of new products and assistance. Please send interns our way for the school year — there is much to learn and contribute.
  • Features

    San Francisco Exit Poll Affirms IRV's Success A newly released exit poll from San Francisco's 2005 election shows the universality of instant runoff voting's appeal and effectiveness.Conducted by The Public Research Institute of San Francisco State University, the poll indicates that voters were three times more likely to say voting with IRV was easy than not — consistent with a 99.6% rate of valid ballots. Voters also preferred IRV to the old two-round runoff system by a margin of three to one, with strong support from all voters - transcending party, race, gender, age and neighborhood. FairVote's analyses show voter turnout in the final count was nearly three times what it would have been with the old runoff system.

    New FairVote Events Page! FairVote appears in radio, television, presentations and press event around the country. Now you can see it all in one place! August highlights include Rob Richie's presentation on instant runoff voting to the Aspen (CO) city council on August 1 and the Presidential Election Reform's “short course” on the Electoral College at the American Political Science Association on August 28, where we also will have a booth from Aug. 29-Sept.3.

    Commentary and News

    Two elections, one trip to vote
    Wilmington Star News

    Editorial board strongly favors using instant runoff voting for North Carolina elections.

    Every vote counts in a fair electoral system
    The Orange County Register

    Representative Tom Umberg responds to critics of the national popular vote and labels it a far better system than the current one.

    Voters may get to decide changes to elections format
    San Francisco Chronicle

    FairVote representative Chris Jerdonek is quoted on the merits of instant runoff voting in Oakland as the city council prepares to debate placing it on the November ballot.

    GOP Redistricting
    The Austin Chronicle

    FairVote executive director Rob Richie is quoted on proportional voting as the solution to the problem of gerrymandering in Texas.

    Redistricting Reformers Renew Push
    Roll Call

    FairVote Chair John Anderson along with other congressional allies make strong call for Congress to consider representative John Tanner's (D) Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act (H.R. 2642).

    Repairing American democracy
    Sacramento Bee

    Syndicated columnist Neal Pierce profiles Steven Hill's new book 10 Steps to Repair American Democracy, which advocates several FairVote reform proposals including the right to vote, a national popular vote, instant runoff voting, and proportional representation.

    New districts in harmony with one person, one vote
    Amarillo Globe-News

    FairVote's Jack Santucci s commentary suggests Amarillo (TX) add City Commissioners to the offices it elects under cumulative voting.

    Break down barriers to minority parties
    The Baltimore Sun

    Ralph Nader advocates a variety of FairVote's reforms, including instant runoff voting and proportional voting

    How to Get Real Elections
    Capital Times(WI)

    Editorial takes up Rob Richie's call for proportional voting as a solution to congressional redistricting problems.

    Justices Back Most G.O.P. Changes to Texas Districts
    New York Times

    FairVote's Executive Director Rob Richie is quoted in a condemnation of unfair redistricting practices in Texas.

    Mexico's election lesson to U.S.
    Los Angeles Times

    Robert Pastor advocates major reforms for US federal elections including a nonpartisan election administration, universal registration, and well trained election employees; all reforms supported by FairVote's Right to Vote Initiative.

    Reform DeLayed
    The Nation

    An article on the Texas redistricting includes a call from FairVote's Rob Richie for political measures to be taken to prevent such events from occurring again.

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