It’s hard to believe that we launched FairVote California (FVCA) just 16 months ago! Being the first in my family to be born in California, I know that our state’s great diversity is the perfect place for systemic change -- and it’s exciting to me to have a chance to be part of a potentially historic win in the City of Santa Clara in 2018.
Each month in 2017 we’ve hosted online webinars, trainings, house parties, and events to provide the tools and networks that deepen our current supporter and volunteer base. We continue to update our website with new research and content, and have developed an online presence by doubling our email and social media reach. We’ve also provided over two dozen presentations to partner organizations and at conferences. In addition, FVCA has been a resource through our materials, memos, and reports that amplify the message and need for electoral reform.
FVCA has met with over 100 leaders and community groups to develop one-on-one relationships across the state. Looking to statewide change, both proponents and opponents of the current Top Two primary election system have opened the door to the potential for building RCV into the system. There are also opportunities to further develop RCV as a remedy under the California Voting Rights Act, as a solution to the increase in special elections and runoff elections, and as a response to the shift of our 2020 primary elections from June to March. We have built a name as a trusted reform partner to key electoral and voting rights groups and will continue to develop these relationships.
In addition to building relationships for statewide reform, we have been working with allies in over a dozen cities who see openings to win RCV to address problems in their local elections. We’ve had productive conversations with civic leaders in a growing number of cities that are realizing the value of RCV; examples include San Diego and Los Angeles, where in 2020 voters will have a first election in March, and then an eight-month runoff campaign that could be replaced by a single-round November election with RCV.
Our biggest news comes from Santa Clara, where a charter commission recommended RCV in its fair representation, multi-winner form, and the city council has placed it on the June 2018 ballot. If approved by voters, Santa Clara will use RCV to elect all its citywide offices and be the first city to adopt the fair representation form of RCV for city council elections since the 1950’s. Activists in Santa Cruz hope to follow suit.
We’ll also be active in the ea cities that use RCV (Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Leandro) as they get ready for RCV elections next year, starting with a wide-open special election for mayor in San Francisco in June. RCV has been working quite well, with winners earning more votes than in the past and having incentives to engage with and earn support from more voters without “spoilers.” But we’ll be following some of the best practices from groups like FairVote Minnesota to build on that success.
We’re also going to be building more of an organization, with in-state leaders and more in-state support grantmakers and donors. For more information about what FairVote California has been up to and how to get involved, visit the full end of the year recap with FVCA here.