E-Newsletter April 29, 2010

Released April 29, 2010


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The FairVote Reformer: April 2010


April 2010
Newsletter Features

Voter Choice Tweets: Watch Bill Maher and MN gubernatorial candidates advocate IRV; IRV for Utah state reps; New IRV adoptions on campus and communities; big win in court; United Kingdom may get IRV or proportional voting; more

Action Spotlight: National Popular Vote reaches major milestone; write your legislator today!

FairVote Resources and Research: Majority vs. non-majority governors since World War II; women state reps around the country: blog highlights; IRV Factcheck launches

The Rest of the Tweets
: Progress for National Popular Vote; Redistricting; Hard questions for ES&S; PR in Canada; more

Upcoming FairVote Events and Talks: Book talk at Busboys and Poets; League of Women Voters US Conference

Friends of FairVote,

This spring has brought new hope for transformative reform. Voters here and across the Atlantic in the United Kingdom are unhappy with status quo politics, limited voter choice and their representation. It’s time to promote positive reforms, which is what FairVote has always been about – fair access, far elections and fair representation for all.

If Florida Governor Charlie Crist wants to offer himself as a third choice as an independent this November, that’s all to the good – let’s just have instant runoff voting (aka ranked choice voting or, in the words of new advocates Thomas Friedman and Bill Maher, “alternative voting”) to accommodate choice and uphold the principle of majority rule. Let’s end gerrymandering, in the spirit of a new collaborative project we helped generate, but then more -- put voters in control through proportional voting systems like choice voting that allow like-minded voters to win representation and hold leadership accountable. Let’s not just rail against the Electoral College – let’s make it work so every American has an equal vote.

This month’s many highlights include:

  • We had a new win for voter pre-registration in our home state (creating a sweep of victories in all four states where we’ve had full-time staff in recent years);
  • FairVote’s voter education initiative in Port Chester (NY) is going well as the Village heads toward June elections with cumulative voting;
  • A federal judge stood up strongly for instant runoff voting in San Francisco, while across the Bay, San Leandro confirmed it will join neighboring cities Oakland and Berkeley in IRV elections this November;
  • A host of leading candidates for governor in Minnesota competed in a debate to have the strongest pro-IRV position;
  • An 82% win for IRV at Brown University came amidst several exciting IRV elections on campus – see if your school is on the latest list;
  • The launch of EndGerrymandering.com as a vehicle to generate participation, transparency and reform around the upcoming redistricting process;
  • And a growing chance for the United Kingdom to reject U.S.-style plurality voting elections in favor of IRV or proportional voting. Stay tuned for the voting next week.

We bid adieu to wonderful interns Pauline Lejeune, Amanda Naldjieff, Maxine Katz and Geoff Porter and au revoir to Right to Vote Initiative director Adam Fogel, who is off for the next six months to test campaign waters after steering us into our new website and boosting advances for fair access to participation. But we welcome Neal Suidan and his excellent work on Electoral College reform, and look forward to the arrival of summer interns and our inaugural class of Democracy Fellows who will join us for nearly a year of work and learning (our thanks to all of those who applied, and apologies we can’t work with all of you).

We also say goodbye to civil rights champion Dorothy Height who passed away on April 20, 2010 at the age of ninety-eight. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.

We’re trying something different with the rest of the Reformer this month: tweets galore. You can read them as they happen by signing up at www.twitter.com/fairvote. Speaking of social media, we hope that on May 1st, we’ll have a proposal in the Pepsi Challenge on Facebook. Finally, I encourage you read our “FairVote Action spotlight” on the National Popular Vote plan and send your legislators a letter today.

Thank you!

Rob Richie,
Executive Director


Voter Choice Tweets


Facebookers -- Bill Maher posts his comments in support of IRV/alternative voting, drawing 278 comments: http://tinyurl.com/2686xgq

Watch Minnesota's Democratic candidates for governor address IRV, with strong pro statements from frontrunners: http://blip.tv/file/3537938

Boston Globe oped on IRV: Citizens for Voter Choice's Adam Friedman on split votes in special election: http://tinyurl.com/275ufmf

John Nichols shares good news about instant runoff voting in the Nation magazine: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100419/noted

Detroit Free Press editorial page editor Brian Dickerson backs instant runoff voting: http://tinyurl.com/y3c795q

Katrina vanden Heuvel in Washington Post on UK, Clegg and proportional representation -- & links to FairVote: http://tinyurl.com/34llw2d


New America Foundation blog post on landmark court ruling upholding IRV in San Francisco: http://tinyurl.com/yyj5tzm

Coverage of defeat of anti-IRV federal lawsuit in San Fran Chronicle (http://tinyurl.com/y2oj9go) and SF Weekly (http://tinyurl.com/y7gggzl)


Hendersonville (NC) city council indicates with unanimous vote that it wants to keep using instant runoff voting: http://tinyurl.com/ybb8bnm

Oakland's first IRV race for mayor gets all the more interesting -- at least three major candidates to run? http://tinyurl.com/y2qzuhh

California state senate committee passes bill to provide for IRV for special House and legislative elections: http://tinyurl.com/254vvda

Utah Republicans in Box Elder county used IRV in county nominations this weekend : http://tinyurl.com/ybjs7xl

Utah legislature has 3rd state rep elected by IRV in past year at GOP caucus. See: http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_14859186

San Leandro (CA) on track with IRV this year after 5-2 vote. Councilor says no opposition emails from within city:http://tinyurl.com/y2r6fxc

Duke is in Final 4 -- and more than 40% of students turn out for instant runoff elections for student gov't prez: http://tinyurl.com/yefo8re

UC-San Diego: Woman wins IRV race for president in last IRV round. Losing incumbent accepts defeat gracefully: http://tinyurl.com/ydwc4mr

IRV plays key role in student votes at Columbia [ http://tinyurl.com/y3jsfqj ] and "record turnout" at U-Minn - http://tinyurl.com/ydglz46

Brown University students approve instant runoff voting by 82% to 18%: http://tinyurl.com/26wpjdv

Brandeis student paper. Elections "showcased the success of the new instant-runoff voting system": http://thebrandeishoot.com/articles/7766

University of Minnesota has big jump in turnout in 4-way instant runoff race for student body president: http://tinyurl.com/ylygc4w

Instant runoff elections at NC State in 7-way vote for president - students explain why: http://tinyurl.com/yjto5y8

Columbia University holds hotly contested student elections with IRV -- several go to instant runoff: http://tinyurl.com/y2c6j8f

Dartmouth College has hotly contested instant runoff elections for student leaders: http://tinyurl.com/y6ul64r


UK reform! See party platforms (http://tinyurl.com/y7jf2pq) & poll with only 16% support for winner-take-all: http://tinyurl.com/y3xtp23

UK: Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg demands proportional representation : http://tinyurl.com/27ot8fb & http://tinyurl.com/2aq2syr

New York Times opinion page reviews British elections and anomalies of current voting rules: http://tinyurl.com/y5wgqd2

Choice voting form of PR ("STV") expanded to Scotland's health board elections so "every vote truly counts": http://tinyurl.com/277am97

New York Times opinion page reviews British elections and anomalies of current voting rules: http://tinyurl.com/y5wgqd2

Labour in UK promises referenda on IRV & electing House of Lords with open list PR: http://tinyurl.com/yhefu82 & http://tinyurl.com/ydg27hf

Oxford's Vernon Bogdanor: Is this the last first-past-the-post election in the UK? http://tinyurl.com/y7eonec

British columnists on winning voting reform: Guardian's Graham (http://tinyurl.com/yymogkb) and Toynbee: http://tinyurl.com/y6ve5zk

British Labor Party could wind most seats with third most votes. "The Independent" reviews voting reform options. http://tinyurl.com/yyz4dz8

1 more British tweet. Lewis Baston on "Election 2010 could be death knell for first past the post": http://tinyurl.com/y7lq2gm

British elections, Part 2: Most seats lopsided and already decided: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/news.php?ex=0&nid=461


Needing IRV in America: Arkansas primaries with runoffs, but blogger explains IRV would make for fairer choice: http://tinyurl.com/y3okjdv

Needing IRV in America: Veto increases speculation that FL governor Crist will run for US Senate as independent: http://tinyurl.com/y5qbuy5

Growing Need for Diversity of Political Voices Needs Systemic Election Reforms like IRV and PR - http://fdl.me/9Dgvr7 from @firedoglake

Rasmussen Research: 50% of US voters have voted for non-major party presidential candidate & only 41% have not: http://tinyurl.com/2e8xhe9

14 candidates (10 from major parties) contest 1-round, plurality US House election in Hawaii. Read call for IRV: http://tinyurl.com/yczdfk8

Want IRV? New poll in MA governor's race: independent candidate continues to poll more than 20% in tight race: http://tinyurl.com/l3f2ow

Needing voter choice reform in America: NC labor activists launching new party - http://tinyurl.com/y5a4tfv

California blogger on why IRV and PR preferable to Prop 14: http://tinyurl.com/2dsmvxx

NYTimes book review editor Tanehaus highlights Lind-Halstead book that features call for instant runoff voting: http://tinyurl.com/y7o6qvg

Action Spotlight: National Popular Vote Reaches Major Milestone

A Note From Rob Richie on the National Popular Vote Milestone:

The National Popular Vote plan has reached a major milestone. When state legislators Susan Chew and Kate Kelly introduced the NPV bill in Idaho this year, it meant that all 50 states have debated legislation to fix our broken presidential election system.

This is no small feat – this means legislative allies have been found in every state that are adamant about this movement and have decided to make it a priority. More than 1,775 state legislators have now voted for or endorsed NPV and 29 legislative chambers in 19 diverse states (small and big, west and east, north and south, red and blue) have passed it. Starting with our home state of Maryland in 2007, five states have made it law. They collectively represent nearly a fifth of the electors necessary to enact the agreement and guarantee election of the national popular vote winner in all fifty states.

This milestone is cause for celebration. It is also cause for action. With your help, we really can ensure that we elect our president by a national popular vote. Legislators keep track of constituent correspondence, and - especially at the state level – it can greatly impact their vote. Whether it's a paragraph or a page, your voice matters.

Please take a moment to write your state legislator in support for the National Popular Vote plan and forward this message to your friends around the country.

Momentum keeps growing for NPV. New endorsers from this spring include the Brennan Center, Demos, ACLU and a recent chair of the Michigan Republican Party. NPV is expected to be up for debate in Michigan and other states in the coming months. To make serious progress in this movement, we need your voice to come through to your legislators.

For an idea of what you might write, view a sample letter from my colleague Neal Suidan posted here and background information in our webpage on the proposal and the National Popular Vote site.  The letter in place is just a model - we want you to put in your own words why you support the NPV plan.

Tell your legislator that it is time for a national popular vote.

The implications of the National Popular Vote plan becoming law would be transformational for our democracy. No longer would a vote be worth more in some states than others; every voter could hold their president accountable. The false notion that our country is made up of solid red and blue states rather than different shades of purple would finally be removed. Candidates would need to address issues that reflect the needs of all Americans rather than focus on the barely one-third of Americans in swing states that garner more than 98% of general election campaign resources and attention.

Please show your support for making every vote equal today.
Thank You,
Rob Richie
President, FairVote Action

FairVote Resources and Research

Have a question about something you've heard about instant runoff voting? Check out: http://irvfactcheck.blogspot.com/

Ever wonder how a voting reform group decides what to order for lunch? Pauline Lejeune's blog provides an answer: http://tinyurl.com/2622h3x

Women win 48% of provincial election seats this year in France. See how in Pauline Lejeune's latest blogpost: http://tinyurl.com/29mn6p9

British Academy Policy Centre report on choosing a voting method. Ranked voting not hard for voters, much more: http://tinyurl.com/29whu6x

FairVote chair Krist Novoselic on putting the alternative in voting through IRV/ranked choice voting: http://tinyurl.com/27qx69e

Why FairVote opposes CA's Prop 14 on "Top Two. See Huffington Post:http://tinyurl.com/y6btkyb Read more on Top Two at: www.stoptoptwo.org

Majority and non-majority governors in the USA since World War II, state by state: : http://tinyurl.com/24k5lpj
Repeal efforts against National Popular Vote plan are a bust: http://www.fairvote.org/national-popular-vote-repeal-efforts-are-a-flop
Neal Suidan on state laws on Electoral College: the history (http://tinyurl.com/29vcz5j) & flawed reforms: http://tinyurl.com/297eu7r

How many women are in the South Carolina state senate? Find out here: http://www.fairvote.org/womens-representation (scroll to bottom)

FairVote intern Amanda Naldjieff starts blog series on Cyprus elections: http://www.fairvote.org/presidential-elections-in-cyprus-series
Pauline Lejeune's latest on the aftermath of Iraq's parliamentary elections: http://www.fairvote.org/iraq-s-2010-parliamentary-election7

The Rest of the Tweets

News coverage of developments in cumulative voting elections in Port Chester, NY: http://tinyurl.com/285n8b7 1:26 PM Apr 25th

We need the National Popular Vote plan. NY state senator Kevin Parker interviews John Koza: http://www.mefeedia.com/watch/30842972

EndGerrymandering.com is live! FairVote is proud to be part of new collaborative initiative. http://www.endgerrymandering.com/

Big majority (with youth strongest) in national poll of Canadians want proportional representation elections: http://tinyurl.com/y69wn8g

Our state of Maryland strikes blow against using prisons to gerrymander. See NY Times editorial on fairer counts:http://tinyurl.com/y6uprh5

More hard questions for ES&S and our voting equipment industry. See letter to DOJ by FairVote & reform leaders: http://tinyurl.com/y67qu63

William & Mary Symposium on video. “Back to the Drawing Board: The 2010 Census and Politics of Redistricting” - http://tinyurl.com/ye7znj5

Former Michigan GOP chair backs National Popular Vote plan in Detroit News oped: http://tinyurl.com/yl9r24n

Upcoming FairVote Events and Talks

Tuesday, June 8th
6:30 to 8:00 PM

Busboys and Poets (Washington, DC)
Along with contributors Sherrilyn Ifill and Bill Fletcher, Kristen Clarke discusses her new book: Barack Obama and African American Empowermnet: The Rise of Black America's New Leadership (co-edited with Dr. Manning Marable). The book offers a critical examination of the 2008 presidential election and explores issues of race and politics in the age of Obama.  Clarke is an expert on race, law and democracy matters, civil rights attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and regular contributor to TheGrio.com; Ifill is a nationally-recognized advocate in civil rights and judicial diversity and judicial decision-making, MSNBC commentator and regular contributor to TheRoot.com and Fletcher is longtime labor, racial justice and international activist, former Director of TransAfrica and Editorial Board Member for BlackCommentator.com.  For more information on the book, and to purchase, visit: http://bbpbooks.teachingforchange.org/book/9780230620520

Event is free and open to all, and is co-sponsored by FairVote.

June 13, 2010

League of Women Voters US National Convention (Atlanta, GA), caucus