The Council should follow the will of the voters & implement IRV

4 Jan

Tomorrow night, the City Council will be voting on the implementation and funding of instant runoff voting (IRV). This really should be a done deal because:

  1. The voters overwhelmingly approved IRV in 2006.
  2. The Secretary of State certified Alameda County’s IRV system late last year.
  3. City Attorney John Russo sent out a very clear opinion on December 16th that says the Council must implement IRV.

Russo’s opinion could not have been much more clear:

The Charter grants the Alameda County Registrar of Voters the exclusive power to determine when ranked choice voting will be implemented in Oakland by way of his determination that he is “able to conduct the election on behalf of the City.” Because the City Charter is the supreme law of the City, it can be amended only by a vote of the electorate approving an amendment to the Charter. No enactment by the City Council, whether by resolution, motion or ordinance can override the Charter’s dictates; nor does any elected official, City officer or employee have the authority to ignore the City Charter’s requirements. A charter city may not act in conflict with its charter and any act that violates the Charter is invalid. Therefore once the Registrar of Voters is able to conduct the election in accordance with the Charter, the Charter requires that the City implement ranked choice voting.

But this is Oakland, and though I’m hopeful the Council will do the right thing, it’s never possible to know until the vote happens, especially with the politics of the mayor race involved. If, somehow, the Council does not approve the implementation of IRV, they’re likely to be sued and it’s possible that results of a June election could be called into question and invalidated. I don’t even want to think about the mess that would entail.

I’ve always been a supporter of IRV – more voters turnout in November and the electorate is much more diverse. It’s also a huge money-saver in the long term. But even if I wasn’t supportive of IRV, I would still urge the Council to vote to implement because it is what the voters decided. There is no wiggle room here – if the Council does not approve IRV, they will be telling Oakland voters that our votes don’t matter.

So please contact the Council to ask them to vote to implement IRV and to full fund the public education needed to implement IRV:

Rebecca Kaplan, At-Large or 510-238-7008

Council President Jane Brunner, District 1 or 510-238-7001

Patricia Kernighan, District 2 or 510-238-7002

Nancy Nadel, District 3 or 510-238-7003

Jean Quan, District 4 or 510-238-7004

Ignacio De La Fuente, District 5 or 510-238-7005

Desley Brooks, District 6 or 510-238-7006

Larry Reid, District 7 or 510-238-7007

For more background on IRV, please see the post I wrote about the Registrar’s discussion of IRV at the November Alameda County Democratic Central Committee meeting.

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