California’s Shift to a March Primary Likely Dooms Top-Two System


Governor Brown signed SB 568, which moves all of California’s partisan primaries from June to the first week in March, in midterm years as well as presidential years.  The change is effective after 2018.  Although much commentary about this bill has been published, there is little or no mention of the fact that a March primary for Congress and state office, in all election years, will very likely render the top-two system unconstitutional.

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California's Top-Two Blues, and How To Break Out of Them


As California Republicans and Democrats express their frustration with Top-Two, it’s clear that people across the political spectrum aren’t done reforming the Golden State’s election system. Luckily, a breakthrough may be right around the corner.

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California is Legislating to Counter Low Voter Turnout

Santa Clara Pursues Ranked Choice Voting Under Threat of Litigation



Earlier this year a lawsuit was brought against the City of Santa Clara challenging the at-large electoral system used to elect its City Councilmembers. The lawsuit alleges that Santa Clara’s election system violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001. In April, the City Council directed the creation of a Charter Review Committee to review the City’s election method and to make a recommendation for electing members to the City Council. 

On January 30, 2018, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution to put the Charter Amendment on the ballot. If the proposed plan is adopted, Santa Clara could be the first California city to use multi-seat RCV. Further, ranked choice voting would also be used for offices elected citywide including Mayor, City Clerk, and Police Chief.

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Santa Cruz Should Lead Election Reform for Its Own Good and the Nation’s - FairVote California



In 2016, election reform went from being a nice idea to an imperative. As a wiry haired genius (Albert Einstein) once said, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.” If we continue to conduct elections in the same way, we will continue to get the same vicious campaigns and polarized government.


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San Francisco Open Source Voting System Project


What is the project? The project is for the City and County of San Francisco to develop and certify an open source paper-ballot voting system, as described in detail by a resolution passed unanimously by the San Francisco Elections Commission in November 2015.[1]

What is an open source voting system? An open source voting system is a voting system consisting of open source software running on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS, aka “commodity”) hardware. Open source software is software that is free for anyone to inspect, use, and improve.[2] The software is public and non-proprietary. The Firefox web browser and the Linux and Android operating systems are three widely used examples of open source software. Open source software is used heavily by successful technology companies large and small.

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Colin's Story: San Luis Obispo Election Results


I'm looking again at the election results for San Luis Obispo County, and down on page nine, you can see that the margin in our mayoral race was a mere 46 votes. That's way fewer than the 146 write-in votes. If we'd had ranked-choice voting, it's entirely possible some of those write-in voters' second choice votes could have gone to Jan Marx and swung the election.

I voted for Jan Marx, the incumbent, because I felt like she was doing a fine job, but I also supported Heidi Harmon's platform. It would have been nice if I could have cast a ballot that showed support for both of the candidates, because that ballot would have more accurately reflected my position.

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Why Ranked Choice Voting Works: Low Turnout is the Hidden Cost of Runoff Elections


Often, political pundits and the media blame voters for not turning out to vote. Just recently, Samantha Bee slammed the 12% voter turnout in the Los Angeles mayor race. Many find it easy to point to voter apathy and lack of civics education as the cause of dismal voter turnout. However, there is a major factor to low voter turnout that is often left out of the conversation: the timing of elections, especially for places that hold runoff elections.

FairVote studied the effect of a city that consolidated its runoffs. Until 2003, the city of San Francisco held its elections in a November and December runoff cycle. What we found is that prior to the introduction of ranked choice voting (RCV), many voters did not participate in the second round of voting in December, which is called a runoff election. In San Francisco – the median turnout decline for local runoffs between 2000 and 2003 was 39.5%, meaning just three in five voters who voted in the first round of voting turned out in the decisive runoff round.

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Los Angeles City Election Turnout Projected to Hit Record Low, Would RCV Help?


Voter turnout in many city elections is hitting all-time lows. While there is no single reason for such declines, evidence strongly suggests ranked choice voting (RCV) does not lead to lower turnout despite some claims to the contrary, and may even provide a solution for cities like Los Angeles looking to boost turnout when paired with other common sense reforms. Indeed, adoption of RCV has allowed cities to avoid primary and runoff elections that almost always had far lower turnout than the general election.

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Understanding Condorcet Winners and Non-Monotonicity Through the Lens of Berkeley's District 2 City Council Race


Berkeley’s District 2 City Council race was one of only two Bay Area ranked choice voting (RCV) races this year to feature a come from behind victory. Cheryl Davila, a local activist, won 31% of the first round vote, unseated incumbent Darryl Moore, who won 39% of the first round vote. The key to Davila’s victory in the final “instant runoff” was obtaining nearly three out of four votes from the third place finisher, Nanci Armstrong-Temple’s, after she was eliminated. Armstrong-Temple won 29% of the vote in the first round, and 73% of her voters ranked Davila second. Davila is now the only African American woman on the Berkeley city council. 

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