an opportunity to lobby for voting reform
The Colorado House State Vererans Affairs Committee will conduct a hearing about SB05-198 tomorrow (Tuesday). See details below. I urge everyone who is interested in voting reform to show up and support this bill.
SB05-198 is about voting integrity - insuring that the votes are counted accurately. However, this is an opportunity to promote better voting methods to the legislators. I would argue that the topic of voting methods is relevant, as follows: Most people would agree that if more voters prefer candidate A over candidate B than vice versa (and there is not an even-more preferred candidate C), then candidate A should win. For example, in Florida 2000, even if the votes were counted correctly, it was likely that more voters preferred Gore to Bush, if you make the reasonable assumption that most people who voted for Nader preferred Gore over Bush. If you count the Nader votes together with the Gore votes, Gore would have had more than 50% of the votes.
(I use this example because it is probably the most well-known and indisputable example of a less-popular candidate winning an election. In that case the Republican won when the Democrat was preferred by more voters. But it can just as easily go the other way. For example, in 1992, Perot probably took more votes from Bush than from Clinton, and so that was probably a case where the Republican was preferred by more voters but the Democrat won the election.)
It's important to count the votes accurately. But what good is it to count the votes accurately, if the rules for voting and counting the votes lead to a less-preferred candidate winning over a more-preferred one?
Bush won Florida because the voters were required to vote for just one candidate. A Nader voter had no way to express the fact that he liked Nader best, but he also liked Gore more than Bush.
There are several voting methods that allow voters to express their support for more than one candidate, or allow them to rank the candidates in order of preference - 1st choice, 2nd choice, etc. I prefer a method called Approval Voting. With Approval Voting, voters can vote for as many candidates as they like. For example, in Florida 2000, Nader voters could vote for both Nader AND Gore, if they wished. Whoever gets the most votes wins. This method is extremely simple and can be implemented with any existing voting equipment and procedures.
Another method is IRV - Instant Runoff Voting. I expect someone else will talk about this method.
Either of these methods is better than the method we use now, in that they choose winners that are more representative of the voters' preferences.
There isn't time in this legislative session to study and approve an alternative voting system. But I would urge the Committee to add a rider to this bill to have the Secretary of State conduct a study of alternative voting methods such as Approval Voting and IRV, to determine the costs, benefits and legal issues.
In summary: the Committee should pass SB05-198 to improve the integrity of our elections. It should also take the initial steps toward implementing an alternative voting method that would reliably choose as winner the candidate who is most representative of the voters' preferences.
- Jan Kok
URGENT ACTION from COLORADOANS FOR VOTING INTEGRITY
CFVI is mobilizing a Legislative Action Alert to all concerned citizens of Colorado to support SB05-198
This bill will require a voter verified paper record of each vote beginning in 2008 (or 2010 in many cases). Electronic voting machines would need to be outfitted with printers to produce a paper record. The paper record would be considered the official record of the vote. The bill would also require automatic random audits of selected voting systems in each county.
WE SUPPORT THIS BILL, BUT BELIEVE IT DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH.
Here's what we need you to do:
1. Show up in person to the House State Veterans Affairs Committee hearing at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26th at the State Capitol.
We need a show of force by citizens to demonstrate support for verifiable voting. Get there early -- we will gather by the West steps of the Capitol at 1 p.m. for a few last-minute instructions before going to the hearing room together.
Trust, but verify the House schedule for Tuesday, 26 April here. (House schedule in PDF format)
2. Call your Colorado Representative to support SB05-198 and ask them to add these strengthening points:
o Demand IMPLEMENTATION in 2006- don't let another unverifiable general election go by!
[ Why? Click here ]
o Require counties to provide PAPER BALLOTS to voters until such time as paper print-outs can be made available with existing voting systems.
[ Why we want paper now - Click here ]
o make verification meaningful: Give INDEPENDENT county canvass boards the ability to investigate voting discrepancies rather than following formulas for audits.
[ Why does this matter? - Click here ]
3. Contact your County Clerk, the Secretary of State, and the Governor's Office to show EVERYONE that WE WANT CONFIDENCE IN OUR ELECTION PROCESS AGAIN!
Bob McGrath, Director & Laurie Bretz, Associate Director
Coloradoans for Voting Integrity (CFVI)
355 South Teller Street, Ste. 200
Lakewood, CO 80226
Telephone: 303-231-1031. Fax. 303-235-0124