Green Party of California


For immediate release: March 13, 2003

Beth Moore Haines, GPCA Spokesperson, 530-277-0610,
Ross Mirkarimi, GPCA Spokesperson, 415-412-7526,
John Strawn, GPCA Spokesperson, 805-689-2840,

Sacramento - Seeking alternative voting methods to streamline the electoral process while saving communities dwindling tax dollars lost under the new state budget, the Green Party of California endorses and actively supports AB 1039, the Local Electoral Freedom bill.

Introduced by Assembly member Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), AB 1039 allows municipalities to enact alternative election methods, including Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation.

"With declining voter turnout, cities need options to reinvolve residents and make sure municipal elections have the broadest participation," explains Green Mayor pro tem of Santa Monica, Kevin McKeown. "Santa Monica has successfully implemented innovations like two-day weekend balloting for a Council seat and our current all-postal special election on an initiative ordinance.”

"Instant runoff voting is perhaps the most exciting alternative," McKeown continues, "because it lets voters rank their choices and truly vote their consciences. IRV saves cities money, and reduces the role of big corporate contributions in politics because candidates need run only a single campaign."

Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is a method that guarantees a winner with a mandate from a majority, all within a single election. In an IRV election, voters rank their choices – first, second, third, and so on. If a voter’s first choice “loses” (in effect, finishes last), the voter’s next choice is counted toward the total in the next round. The rounds continue until a candidate has 50 percent plus one vote. In this way, runoffs are eliminated and a candidate receives a true majority.

IRV’s advantages are many. In this era of budget constraints, for example, IRV would limit costs to cities for runoff elections by declaring a winner on Election Day, rather than a community bearing the costs of a runoff election a month later; costs that run into a six-figure sum for larger communities.

Other advantages of IRV are that it:

  • Eliminates the “spoiler effect” of three-way candidacies. The Nader-Gore situation in 2000, as well as the Bush-Perot situation in 1992, would not be a concern under an IRV system. Many Nader voters might have made Gore their “second choice,” just as many Perot voters could have chosen the elder Bush as their number two.
  • Allows local communities more control over local elections. Voters can directly choose the best voting option for their communities.
  • Promotes positive campaigns and eliminates negative campaigns, since a candidate would need second- and third-choice votes. Attack ads, then, would not be wise and would probably not pay off in an IRV system.
  • Raises voter turnout, as results have shown that turnout increases with more choices on the ballot, as well as increasing the likelihood that one’s vote will be decisive.

The city of San Francisco will use IRV for the November elections this year after citizens passed Proposition A in March 2002. November races for mayor, district attorney and sheriff will be chosen by IRV, and all subsequent elections for supervisor, treasurer, city attorney, public defender and assessor will use IRV.

Other alternative voting methods included in the bill are cumulative voting, limited voting, and choice voting.

The GPCA encourages all Californians to lobby their assembly representatives to co-sponsor and/or support the bill. Contact your assembly members at

More information on IRV: California IRV Coalition

The Green Party of California
P.O. Box 2828, Sacramento, CA 95812
Phone: (916) 448-3437