It’s hard to believe that we launched FairVote California (FVCA) just 16 months ago! As we know, our electoral system directly impacts the type of representation that we get, which is why it’s so important we have fair and inclusive elections that achieve better representation. Being the first in my family to be born here, right here in California, I know that our state’s great diversity is the perfect place for systemic change. In the hyperpolarized environment that we’re in, we must continue to lead the way for the rest of the country.
FVCA has been built from the ground up. Each month 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.
We’re proud to be able to support voters having more choice and a stronger voice in our elections. By giving voters the power to rank their candidates in order of preference, ranked choice voting elections (RCV) elections promotes fairness, fosters more civil elections, eliminates vote splitting and the spoiler effect, reduces costs, and supports greater voter participation.
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.
We’re gearing up for the June and November 2018 elections in the Bay Area, more specifically in Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Leandro, where RCV is already used for Mayor, Supervisor, City Council, and School Board races. We’re continuing to meet with community organizations, candidates campaigns, elected officials and election administrators to ensure another successful RCV election year. In partnership with Wellstone Action, FVCA helped develop a training curriculum for candidates and campaign staff in RCV elections. After supporting the training in Minnesota and New Mexico, we look forward to hosting the training in the Bay Area in March 2018.
In March of 2016, a California Voting RIghts Act lawsuit was brought against the City of Santa Clara challenging the at-large electoral system used to elect its City Councilmembers. This past 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.
We provided research and analysis to the community and to the Committee in Santa Clara about the effectiveness of various election methods. Since Santa Clara was too diverse and integrated for single-member district elections, the Committee recommended a multi-seat RCV election system for the City Council and even suggested RCV for their citywide races such as Mayor. We are thrilled to announce the Santa Clara City Council adopted the recommendations of the Charter Review Committee and we are preparing for a June 2018 ballot measure!
In the City of Santa Cruz, volunteers are gathering signatures for a November 2018 ballot measure for multi-seat RCV elections for the City Council. FVCA advises and supports Yes on Ranked Choice who are leading the campaign. In addition to Santa Clara, these ballot measures are historic since the first American city to adopt this fair representation system for City Council elections was in the 1950s.
RCV Expansion Across the State
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. These cities include Los Angeles, Burbank, Compton, Long Beach, Pasadena, Redondo Beach, Santa Barbara, Sunnyvale, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego, Albany, San Jose, Stockton and Irvine. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to start or join a group in your area to get a campaign going!
Here’s how to stay connected and continue to support our work: