Electoral reform in California

Electoral reform in California

Electoral reform in California refers to efforts to change election and voting laws in the West Coast state of California.

Alternate voting systems

In 2002, San Francisco adopted instant-runoff voting in part because of low turnout in its runoff elections [ [http://www.motherjones.com/news/update/2005/09/instant_runoff_voting.html NYC, meet IRV] , Clinton Hendler, Sept. 21, 2005.] . The system is called "Ranked Choice Voting" there. In 2006, Oakland, California passed Measure O, adopting instant runoff voting [ [http://journalism.berkeley.edu/projects/election2006/2006/11/oakland_adopts_instant_runoff.php Oakland Adopts Instant Runoff Voting] , Davina Attar and Adithya Sambamurthy, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, November 7, 2006.] . Circa 2006, the city council of Davis voted 3-2 to place a measure on the ballot to recommend use of single transferable vote for city elections [ [http://www.commondreams.org/views06/1103-23.htm Campaign 2006 and Bringing Instant Runoff Voting to the Tipping Point] , Rob Richie, November 3, 2006.] ; the measure was approved by the electorate. The state legislature has approved AB 1294 which if signed by the Governor would codify ranked choice elections in state law and allow general law cities (those without charters) to use these election methods [ [http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/asm/ab_1251-1300/ab_1294_bill_20070919_enrolled.html AB 1294, An act to add Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 10050) to Part 1 of Division 10 of the Elections Code, relating to elections] , California Legislature.] .

Allocation of electoral votes

Currently, California's 55 electoral votes are designated to the candidate winning the statewide popular vote.

National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

In 2006, both houses of the California Legislature passed AB 2948, a bill to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and designate California's electoral votes to the ticket winning the popular vote nationwide. Hours before it was scheduled to become law, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it. Assemblyman Tom Umberg indicated he planned to support a ballot initiative, paraphrasing the Governor by saying, "We'll be back." There are also 2 slightly different versions of the Popular Vote Interstate Compact attempting to qualify for the ballot in 2008 [ [http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_j.htm#1281 California Secretary of State - Elections & Voter Information - Initiative Update ] ] .

Electors by Congressional district

Republicans proposed a rival reform to allocate electoral votes by Congressional district, similarly to Maine and Nebraska [ [http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/197156 California initiative proposed to divvy up electoral votes] , Scott Shepard, Cox News Service, Aug. 19, 2007.] . The California Democratic Party calculated that this would likely result in 22 of California's electoral votes going to the Republican candidate in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election [ [http://www.cadem.org/site/c.jrLZK2PyHmF/b.3374419/k.49D/Stop_the_Republican_Steal_the_State_Plot.htm STOP the Republican "Steal the State" Plot] ] , California Democratic Party.] .


In November 2005, the electorate rejected Proposition 77 which called for a panel of three retired judges to draw boundaries for California’s Senate, Assembly, Congressional and Board of Equalization districts. It had been viewed with suspicion due to its Republican backers. FairVote suggested that independent redistricting would help avoid gerrymandering, but the major reform needed was the replacement of single member districts with multi-member districts. This would make it possible to implement single transferable vote or other proportional representation systems [ [http://www.fairvote.org/ca/ Proposition 77 Fails - But Voters Still Want Reform] , FairVote.] .

Expansion of the electorate

In California, voting rights are restored to felons automatically after release from prison and discharge from parole. Probationers may vote [ [http://www.brennancenter.org/dynamic/subpages/download_file_48642.pdf Felony Disenfranchisement Laws] , Brennan Center.] . Prior to 1978, only persons who had a certified medical excuse, or who could demonstrate that they would be out of town on Election Day, were allowed to vote absentee. Today, any voter may vote absentee. In 2004, State Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) proposed a youth suffrage constitutional amendment called Training Wheels for Citizenship that would give 14-year-olds a quarter vote, 16-year-olds a half vote, and 17-year-olds a full vote [ [http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/politicalsystem/a/teenvoteca.htm California Ponders Letting 14-year-olds Vote] , Robert Longley.] [ [http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/04/25/californians_consider_granting_14_year_olds_the_right_to_vote/ Californians consider granting 14-year-olds the right to vote] , Bobby Caina Calvan, Boston Globe, April 25, 2004.] .


ee also

*California Counts

External links

* [http://www.cfer.org/ Californians for Electoral Reform] .
* [http://www.fairvote.org/?page=896 FairVote California] .

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