Electoral Reform Working Group Minutes, August 8, 1999 (Santa Barbara General Assembly)

Electoral Reform Working Group Minutes, August 17, 1999, Santa Barbara

Recorded by Caleb Kleppner

These minutes, along with other working group materials, can be found at: http://petra.greens.org/~calebk/index.html

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Active members present:  Caleb Kleppner, co-chair, Lucy Colvin, Gloria Purcell, Mike Boyd

Observers present:  Joe Louis Hoffman, Klaus Schumann, Marin Illian

Short summary.  We need to get serious about figuring about what we want in a Green Party election code section.  This will require wide discussion within the party with the hopes of reaching consensus on a proposal or series of proposals at the January 2000 plenary.

NOTA.  We had a lengthy discussion of the viability and strategic benefit of NOTA for our primaries.  The use of an open primary makes this problematic, although the Dems and Reps have introduced a double-counting procedure for their presidential primaries which might work for our primaries.  Some were concerned about the process by which the CC sent a letter to Audie Bock about NOTA.  NOTA is still in our bylaws, but the courts have disallowed our use of it since 1994.

Creation of a Green Party section of the elections code.  We had a lengthy discussion of the opportunity to have Audie Bock introduce legislation next session that would create a Green Party section of the state elections code, the state law that governs elections.  The big question is what we want in the section.  Sections for other parties detail primary elections and ballot access, county council elections, and presidential primaries.  For information on what is in the state elections code, go to:


In the past, GPCA said that it did not want an elections code section because we believe our bylaws and not state law control our elections (primaries and county council).

The key here is to start a big dialogue within the party about what we want in an elections code section and what we do not want to put in the code.  Then we need to try to achieve consensus at the next plenary (January 2000) and hope Audie Bock can get the bill through the legislature.  There is precedent for the legislature to defer to individual members who wish to legislate party rules, so it’s possible that this is a bill that the leadership would actually shepherd through.  Of course, Audie is sufficiently precedent-setting that the sharks may not want to let her legislate party rules.

Assuming people want to create a GP election code section, among the things that should go in are the choice voting provisions for county council that we adopted in Santa Barbara and guidelines for our presidential nomination.  If we had state law explicitly stating that counties could elect their county councils by choice voting (or according to whatever system the bylaws specified) then elections officials would be in violation of the law if they didn’t do it.  As a bonus, equipment vendors are under contractual obligation to make their equipment conform to the law, at no cost to the county, when the law changes, so this would probably go a long way toward overcoming equipment obstacles to PR and IRV.

Next steps include getting Audie’s staff to set a meeting with the Secretary of State to begin the dialogue with them.  We want to make sure we put in their answers to questions the Sec. of State has about our elections (such as our presidential nomination) as well as let them know what we are doing.  Caleb will set this up, ideally with Audie or her staff, the liaison to the Sec. of State, and perhaps the treasurer.

This is a big, complex and not very fun issue, but it presents a great opportunity to put the force of state law behind our bylaws, so we want to be deliberative and come up with a good proposal for the January plenary.  Caleb will continue to post material about this in the hopes that people will discuss it in their locals.  If we can’t achieve consensus on this, it was suggested that we should have a fallback proposal that GPCA would like to create an appropriate elections code section, and a committee will work with Audie’s staff to come up with language.

Other business.  Joe Louis Hoffman would like an article for the Consensus about electoral reform efforts by Greens across the state.  Caleb will prepare a packet for people to take to their registrars when they want to discuss implementing the choice voting for county council idea.

Meeting adjourned a few minutes early.