Summary of September's Meeting

There were 6 people in attendance at SMRV's 8th meeting, including two candidates for Santa Monica's city council. We also had 3 "regulars" (we have regulars!) and one first-time attendee.

Amy started the meeting with a summary of who we are, what we have accomplished thus far, and where we would like to go.

Announcements:

SCA14, the California Senate Amendment that would have enacted Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) for statewide offices, is dead. It did pass the Elections and Reapportionment Committee, but it died in the Constitutional Amendment committee. It was scheduled for a vote, then the vote was postponed, then when it was clear that there were not enough votes for it to pass, the hearing was not rescheduled. The sponsor, Sen. Vasconcellos, will not be up for reelection this time due to term limits, so we need to find a new sponsor for IRV-friendly legislation. We look forward to taking what we have learned SCA14 and using that experience to push for statewide IRV next session.

Krist Novoselic, the former bass player for Nirvana, wrote a book about reforming our democracy that included a push for IRV. He will be in town for a book signing and wants to do a fundraiser to help the cause. [New information since the meeting: The house party is going to be held by the Feminist Majority in Beverly Hills from 8-10 pm. RSVP by Sept. 22 by phone (310-556-2500) or by e-mail (dgaines@feminist.org) if you would like to attend. Afterwards, Rob Richie from the Center for Voting and Democracy will visit Santa Monica for any night-owls who want to join us for some late-night ranked voting chit-chat.]

Amy fliered at the SMRR nominating convention on August 1st, and was pleased with the response. Many people said that they had heard about us and that they knew all about Choice Voting because they read about it in the paper. Nice work, SMRV!

Discussion:

We then invited discussion about the impact that ranked voting would have on the upcoming election, both locally and nationally.

Nationally, ranked voting would ensure that the winner of the presidential election has a majority of the vote (more than 50%). We have not had a president who received a majority of the vote since the first President Bush. Also, in this election, Independent candidate Ralph Nader would not be a spoiler, and neither would the Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik, the Green Party nominee David Cobb, or any other third party candidate.

Locally, voters would not be compelled to "bullet vote." Under Santa Monica's current system, people are allotted as many votes as there are seats to be filled, but are compelled not to cast all of their votes because it may dilute the chances of their favorite candidate winning a seat. When a voter only casts one of their allotted votes, it is called "bullet voting." With ranked voting (Choice Voting), people are free to express their true preferences regarding all of the candidates without fear of undermining their favorite's chances. Candidate Kathryn Morea confirmed that she has encountered the bullet voting problem on the campaign trail. In addition, since there are so many contenders this time, there will probably be many people who would like to indicate their preferences for more candidates than just the four that they are permitted to vote for.

Plans:

For election day, we would like to conduct a mock election so that on the way out of the polls, people can see what it feels like to rank the candidates, in stark comparison to the restrictive voting system we currently have in place. If we could find 10 people to spend some time asking voters to cast ballots, this would be a big success. We had three people volunteer to help out at this meeting!! Thanks, Linda, Tera and Sheila!!

During the time leading up to the election we would like to mail videos describing how ranked voting works to all of the candidates, and then follow up with candidate surveys asking them whether or not they think that Santa Monica should use ranked voting for its elections. Kathryn suggested that we send out the results as a press release (being sure to warn the candidates of this part), which is a great idea. Dave volunteered to mail out the videos, Dave you're awesome!

Financial summary:

Since we started asking for donations in May, we have raised a total of $178 from 8 different people, averaging about $20/person. We now have our own checking account, our own post office box (that was $37 for 6 months), and we have real meeting space ($30/meeting). Our donations have also allowed us to keep our website alive, for $9/month. We raised an additional $35 at this meeting. This will be used to send videos about ranked voting to the candidates. Thank you, everyone!

A very successful meeting - two candidates learned about ranked voting, and everyone else there volunteered to help out in a substantial way to move us closer to more democratic elections in Santa Monica. See you in October!