Break State Campaign Laws, Get a City Contract for Ranked Choice Voting

In today’s news about RCV comes a story that is reminiscent of Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s ties to Haliburton.

The St. Paul City Council is poised to give a $19K contract to Jeanne Massey of FairVote to educate the public in Ranked Choice Voting. The Saint Paul Better Ballot Campiagn, a Project of FairVote Minnesota, was found to have violated Minn. Stat. §211B.02.  They claimed in last minute Campaign material used to get RCV passed, that their measure was supported by the President of the United States! After being fined the maximum amount allowed by law, they now are looking to get a city contract to run the education effort!

This does not sit well with Chuck Repke, who filed the original suit along with Dan Dobson. He WRITES to the council: (the State Judges ruling is attached to his letter which can be downloaded HERE)

I have no problems with Ramsey County Elections Division doing the education, or with you contracting with a group that the public recognizes as being non-partisan such as the League of Women Voters to do education, but you can’t expect anyone to seriously think that an organization that has an agenda to promote this voting system to do a non-partisan job of education.

Worse than that let me remind you that in 2009 this organization violated Minnesota Campaign Practices law Stat. 211B.02 in the Saint Paul election and was fined $5,000.00 (the largest fine possible) for
their violation of the law.

From the order:

“Accordingly, the panel has concluded that the Respondent made knowingly false claims that the Minnesota DFL and the League of Women Voters “endorsed” the St. Paul ballot question and that it failed to obtain written permission from the national political figures before using their names as supporters of the ballot question, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 211B.02. The panel has concluded that these violations, which were reflected in approximately 40,000 pieces of campaign literature, were multiple and deliberate. They were made despite the clarity of the statutory prohibitions, and the Respondent remains completely unapologetic. The timing of these mailings made it difficult for opponents to respond before the election and created an unfair advantage”

And, you are seriously thinking of giving this organization $19,000.00 to do education and only $6,000.00 to the LWV.

Further, the contract lists Ms Massey as one of the two responsible parties for the grant. I would encourage you to read the court order from the 2009 case. Three times in the panels conclusion they state that they found Ms Massey’s testimony under oath “not credible.” How can you make the responsible party for $19,000.00 of tax payers money to educate voters on an election system the person who on three occasions was deemed to be “not credible” by a panel of judges concerning a related elections issue? 

Some valid points.  The City also looking to give a contract to the League of Women Voters St. Paul who advocated for RCV.

Often, people wonder about why groups would advocate for a voting system which has in practice shown to be a solution worse than the problem.  As they say, “follow the money”……..

Contracts can be downloaded HERE and HERE

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Ranked Choice Voting – Who REALLY understand it?

In a previous post (SF’s Mayoral Candidates: RCV Confusing for Voters), a candidate is shown describing how RCV works incorrectly. This is very common. Even supporters have a hard time explaining the complex intricacies correctly.

In a recent article, the Las Vegas City Council rejected the idea of using RCV because it’s supporters could not describe it correctly. The councilperson supporting RCV, requested a 5 minute break to confer with the group lobbying for implementation, and asked if they could speak on his behalf. Councilmember Madrid said “If elected officials can’t understand this and we need to take five minutes for clarification, the common citizen may also be confused.” The Council subsequently rejected the Charter change.

Here’s a great 1:30 min video on Ranked Choice Voting (called “Alternative Vote”). Note: The United Kingdom has a nation wide vote on whether to implement RCV for the election of its Members of Parliament. It failed miserably, 68% to 32%. Over 13 million people voted against RCV.

You may think this is rare, but once again, here is a video from Burlington of the RCV spokesperson, Keri Toksu, failing to describe RCV correctly. Why all the confusion? Note: Burlington subsequently repealed RCV by a large margin.

League of Women Voters Event outlines Ranked Choice Voting Pros and Cons (also known as Instant Runoff Voting)

Lee Price MMC, City Clerk of San Jose presents an extensive Pro and Con of Ranked Choice Voting. Her presentation for the League of Women Voters covers all bases, and uses real world data from recent RCV elections.

Lee Price is considered an expert in Ranked Choice Voting and administering elections, and is an active instructor for the City Clerk’s Association of California

She shares her in-depth knowledge of RCV in this video:

SF’s Mayoral Candidates: RCV Confusing for Voters – Waters Down Debate

It’s been promoted that Ranked Choice Voting will force candidates to have a more substantive debate.  But candidates have said it waters down candidates true positions and debates as they barter for 2nd and 3rd place votes.

Here’s their comment from a recent debate when asked about RCV (note, only 9 of the 33 declared candidates were present)

Dennis Herrera: “(RCV) makes the choice for the electorate much more difficult because it is much more difficult to highlight the differences that exist”  “I’m partial to runoffs.  I this it is good to have that one on one debate with an individual and I think it serves the electorate better to have clear distinctions among the candidates.

Phil Ting: Goes on to say that campaigning has been positive, but it is early.

Joanna Rees: “I think RCV is confusing to people”

John Avalos: I believe we are running campaigns that often conceal our differences rather than reveal our differences

Leland Yee: Forces us to campaign outside our support base.  Note: Yee wrote the argument AGAINST SF’s IRV Proposition in 2003

Michela Alioto-Pier:  “Truthfully, I think that the (RCV) system is very confusing”  Then she goes on to describe RCV incorrectly stating “People go out there an vote for one person three times, thinking that that strengthens your vote.  In fact your ballot is them thrown out because you voted incorrectly.”

If, after 7 years and dozens of RCV elections in SF, the candidates find voters confused and even some of them can’t describe it without making mistakes, is it really easy as 1, 2, 3?

Department of Justice Files Voting Rights Violations Complaint against Alameda County

The Department of Justice filed a Voting Rights Violation against Alameda County and the Registrar of Voters, which administered the recent Ranked Choice Voting elections in Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro.

“The complaint alleges that Alameda County violated Sections 203 of the Voting Rights Act by having failed to provide effective access to the electoral process for Spanish and Chinese-speaking citizens who need language assistance and translated materials and information to cast an informed ballot.”

The complaint can be seen HERE.

A published picture of a voting booth clearly shows RCV Voting instructions in English only.  The agreement, reached just one day after America celebrated its Independence, stipulates the County will provide Voting materials and assistance in SPanish and Chinese.  The Press Release reads:

“The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and language barriers should never keep citizens from accessing that right,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Today’s agreement ensures that Alameda County’s Spanish and Chinese-speaking citizens will be able to cast an effective ballot and successfully participate in the electoral process”

Honolulu Rejects Instant Run-off Voting, State Bill dies

Honolulu’s City Council unanimously opposes  Instant Run-off Voting by issuing Resolution 11-116.

“Honolulu City Councilman Tom Berg, who was elected on 29 December 2010 in a special election to fill a vacancy on the council, describes the sudden push for ranked choice voting this way: “It’s a huge infringement on the long established concept of home rule and an assault on our democratic form of government in clear violation of the Constitutional principle of one man-one vote. It’s also an unfunded, discriminatory mandate on just two of our four counties during a time of scarce resources.”

With the council’s strong response  to the State bill and further exmination of IRV, the conference committee killed the Bill.

 

Ranked Choice Voting and Civil Rights

On this 235th Birthday of America, it is appropriate to stand up and fight for voters rights, that every vote should be counted.  There should be respect for every vote and every voter.  This video on youtube describes the many studies that show Ranked Choice voting is a step backwards in voting rights.

San Leandro to look at the future of ranked-choice voting

San Leandro, which adopted the use of Ranked-Choice Voting by a split council vote in 2010, may reconsider the use of this experimental system in the city  WRITES Chris Metinko of the Oakland Tribune:

To me, (ranked-choice voting) is a failure,” (Mayor) Santos said. “Personally, I hope it does not continue in San Leandro.”

Santos said he now has multiple issues with the voting system, although he freely admits he had been a proponent of bringing it to the city for years, and was even a strong supporter of Measure F in 2000, which paved the way for the city to use ranked-choice voting in its elections.

“I fostered it into the city,” Santos said. “I now have to face those consequences.”

Santos said he now believes the system confuses voters — offering a variety of choices without adequate instruction — and discriminates against minorities because of possible language barriers.

He also said he believes the system is flawed because a candidate may not receive a majority of the votes cast in a race but still can be declared the winner. That can occur because some ballots are “exhausted” — a term used when all the candidates on a ballot have been eliminated from the race before the final round of vote counting is concluded.

“This is America, and I believe every vote should be counted,” Santos said.

Mayor Santos’ contention that certain classes of voters were confused has been backed up by all the recent studies on RCV.

Pro-IRV group fined $5,000 for violating campaign law

The Minnesota Independent writes St. Paul’s Better Ballot Campaign, headed by FairVote’s Jeanne Massey, broke state law in getting IRV passed.  The measure won by about 1%, but cannot be overturned even though they broke State Law to win.

“St. Paul’s Better Ballot Campaign was fined $5,000 for violating campaign laws after a panel of administrative law judges ruled the group made false claims in endorsements of Instant Runoff Voting, which was approved by St. Paul voters on election day.”

Judge’s Ruling can be found HERE.

“the panel has concluded that the Respondent made knowingly false claims that the Minnesota DFL and the League of Women Voters “endorsed” the St. Paul ballot question and that it failed to obtain written permission from the national political figures before using their names as supporters of the ballot question, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 211B.02. The panel has concluded that these violations, which were reflected in approximately 40,000 pieces of campaign literature, were multiple and deliberate. They were made despite the clarity of the statutory prohibitions, and the Respondent (FairVote’s Jeanne Massey) remains completely unapologetic. The timing of these mailings made it difficult for opponents to respond before the election and created an unfair advantage. These false claims of support or endorsement likely influenced some voters, but the impact on the election cannot be quantified on this record. Under all the circumstances, the panel believes a fine in the amount of $5,000 is the appropriate penalty.”

 

Confusion about Oakland’s new Ranked Choice Voting System may have affected election

Lance Williams, the reporter who broke the Barry Bonds steroid scandal, writes for California Watch – the Center for Investigative Reporting that voter confusion may have changed the outcome of the Oakland Mayoral election:

“One out of every 10 Oakland voters showed signs of confusion about how to vote for mayor using the city’s new ranked-choice voting procedure, according to a computer analysis of returns obtained by California Watch.

The confusion was so great that it may have flipped the final results of the extraordinarily tight mayor’s race between former state Senate leader Don Perata and city council member Jean Quan, the analysis shows.”