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E-Newsletter October 1, 2002

Released October 1, 2002

State-by-state highlights on electoral reform

Please send any additional updates, clarifications, corrections or calls for organizing help to Dan Johnson-Weinberger, National Field Director, Center for Voting and Democracy at [email protected] (312.933.4890). Let's get your activity in the next update!

Two new books featuring instant runoff voting and proportional representation:
Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Frank Watkins new book "A More Perfect Union" and New America Foundation leaders Ted Halstead and Michael Lind's "The Radical Center" each make the case for instant runoff voting and proportional representation. These are extended treatments in both books and are worth reading. Congressman Jackson may soon introduce legislation boosting instant runoff voting and electoral reform. "The Radical Center" was featured in a New York Times book review by Robert Reich; Reich picked up on instant runoff voting in his review of the book.

Action item:
Get your newspaper to write a book review of these books (or write one yourself) and plug these books on book-selling websites.

Also, CVD staffer Steven Hill's new book will be in bookstores in June 2002. It's called "Fixing Elections: The Failure of America's Winner-Take-All Politics," and will be published by Routledge Press.

California: (San Francisco):
The kick-off for the instant runoff voting campaign has been set for Saturday, November 17th. Co-sponsored by CalPIRG and Rock the Vote, the event will be our first opportunity to walk precincts and develop our literature for the March campaign. If we're successful in March, San Francisco will be the first U.S. city to implement instant runoff voting for mayor and the municipal legislature in 25 years. The event will be at Arriba Juntos, 1850 Mission Street in San Francisco from 10 am to 3 pm.

Please consider making a trip to San Francisco sometime between mid-January and March 5th. People willing to devote major chunks of time to precinct walking and leafleting will be given a place to stay in exchange for working on the instant runoff voting campaign.

Illinois:
Bipartisan legislation has been filed in the state senate to put cumulative voting on the November 2002 ballot. Also, the mayors of five cities (Rockford, Highland Park, Dixon, Tinley Park and Palatine) have signed a letter to be sent to all other mayors in the state endorsing a return to cumulative voting for the Illinois House.

Maryland:
The Center is advocating the use of cumulative voting for the Maryland legislature's three-member districts (currently using block voting where every person has three votes and the majority can win all three seats), in order to fairly represent political and racial minorities. An op-ed by Deputy Director Eric Olson and constitutional law professor Jamin Raskin appeared in the Washington Post.

Missouri:
Lou Traxel testified on instant runoff voting at a public hearing for the House Interim Committee on Election Reform & Ballot Access, and played the Center's IRV videotape for the Committee. To order the video online, visit www.fairvote.org/order.htm and to get involved in Missouri, contact Lou Traxel at [email protected]

Montana:
An instant runoff voting initiative has been filed with the Secretary of State.

Oregon:
An instant runoff voting initiative has been filed with the Secretary of State.

Vermont:
The President of the Vermont League of Women Voters and the Legislative Director for the State Grange (a former Republican legislator) sent a letter advocating instant runoff voting to the chairperson of each town party committee (more than 200 across the state gathered in September). Also, Governor Howard Dean recently stressed the need for instant runoff voting as an accompaniment to public financing of elections. Public financing increases the likelihood of more than two credible candidates running for office, which creates 'winners' with less than 50% of the vote.

Washington:
Electoral reformers in Washington State are gearing up for a big push for IRV in their state legislature next spring. They have sponsors for an IRV bill in both houses. The IRV bill from the last session (SB 5338) received bipartisan support, and made it out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee on its first try. Contact Brent White at [email protected] to help.

Save the dates for travel plans:
Join us in celebrating the 80th birthday of our president, John B. Anderson in Washington D.C. The celebration will be held Wednesday evening, February 13th. More details to come. (Please don't tell John about the party, though, it is still a secret).

The Center's 10th anniversary is in June of 2002 and we would like to celebrate with as many electoral reformers as possible. We'll be having our anniversary party and strategy sessions in Chicago in the first part of that month. If there are any particular dates in June that would be better for you, please contact Dan Johnson-Weinberger at [email protected] as we'd like to nail down our date in the next week.

1. Get a speaker from CVD!
Staff and Board members from the Center frequently speak at local, regional and national conferences and meetings. Recent talks include ones to two county branches of the ACLU in Maryland and South Carolina, the NAACP state convention in Maryland, a class at Duke University, the national conventions of the National Organization for Women and Americans for Democratic Action and the Chicago Republican organization. West coast director Steven Hill will speak on November 3rd at a forum at Stanford law school (www.law.stanford.edu/shaking ). Email [email protected] to explore a speaking engagement.

2. 50-state redistricting report:
Redistricting continues to bloody the partisan waters in states around the nation. To find out what is going on in your state, visit our public interest guide to redistricting, which regularly updates developments in all 50 states. Action item: Alert us to an important development in your state, particularly one where a proportional voting system could resolve a controversy.

3. Help CVD with election machine modernization:
You can help us with the fight for new voting equipment that can handle modern voting systems. Whenever you hear about a local or state debate about new equipment, make sure they know about out voting equipment flexibility statement and other ways to truly modernize voting http://archive.fairvote.org/administration/modernize.htm.

4. Join a listserv.
We've set up several different electronic listservs to keep people in touch. Here's a brief description of a few; all lists are moderated:

For an about-monthly update from the Center for Voting and Democracy: email [email protected]

For a national organizing list on instant runoff voting: email [email protected]

For a national organizing list on proportional representation: email [email protected]

For news clippings regarding electoral reform generally: email [email protected]

For state and local lists, please email Dan Johnson-Weinberger at [email protected] ¬†with the state list that you would like to join and he will subscribe you.