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Pierce charter amendment supporters, opponents squabble over campaign cash

Post by David Wickert on Oct. 15, 2009 at 9:41 am with 22 Comments »
October 15, 2009 9:57 am

Supporters and opponents of three proposed Pierce County charter amendments have been trading jabs recently.

Alex Hays, president of the Pierce County Better Government League, which supports the three amendments, has accused opponents of accepting “secret campaign cash” from an out-of-state group.

State Public Disclosure Commission records show Citizens Against Rigging the System, which opposes the charter amendments, has accepted $22,000 from Fair Vote, a Maryland nonprofit. According to its web site, the group advocates for election law changes it believes will increase voter participation and give voters “more meaningful ballot choices.”

Fair Vote has contributed more than 80 percent of the money raised by Citizens Against Rigging the System.

Hays says the contributions undermine the principal that “local issues should be decided by local people.” He contends Fair Vote has not disclosed its contributors, so voters don’t know who’s ultimately behind the contributions. And he suggests the contributions are illegal because Fair Vote is a nonprofit and can’t support a political campaign.

Poppycock, says Kelly Haughton of Citizens Against Rigging the System. Or words to that effect.

In a statement released following Hays’ accusations, Haughton said IRS regulations allow nonprofits like Fair Vote to devote up to 20 percent of their income to advocacy for or against ballot measures and legislation.

Haughton noted the Fair Vote board is chaired by Washington resident Krist Novoselic, a former Tacoma resident. He said Fair Vote’s financial backers include the Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation.

Haughton contends Hays is trying to change the subject from unpopular charter amendments proposed by incumbent politicians to help themselves.

Near as I can tell, Haughton is right about IRS regulations. I found this in a “frequently asked questions” document on the IRS web site.

May a section 501(c)3 organization make a contribution to a ballot measure committee (committees supporting or opposing ballot initiatives or referenda)?

Yes, a section 501(c)3 organization may make a contribution to a ballot measure committee (committees supporting or opposing ballot initiatives or referenda), but it must include such contributions in its lobbying calculations for purposes of determining whether a substantial part of its activities consist of attempting to influence legislation.

For the record, here’s what the fighting is about:

• Proposition 1 would move the election of the county executive and council to odd-numbered years by 2015 and increase term limits for those offices from two consecutive four-year terms to three consecutive four-year terms.

• Proposition 2 would move the election of auditor, assessor-treasurer and sheriff to odd-numbered years by 2015.

• Proposition 3 would eliminate ranked choice voting and restore the primary and general election system for all county elected offices.

Here are the two sides’ dueling statements about the Fair Vote campaign contributions:

From Alex Hayes:

For Immediate Release 30 September 2009

Contact Alex Hays, PCBGL President: office 253.756.7836, cell 253.861.0103 or alexhays@pcbgl.org

Pierce County Better Government League to C.A.R.S.: “Return the funny money”

82% of “CARS” funding comes from the Maryland based 501 (c) (3) organization “Fair Vote” in an apparent violation of federal law and the principals of Washington State’s campaign finance disclosure requirements.

Tacoma, WA – “Local issues should be decided by local people” said League President Alex Hays, “this principal is under attack by the ironically named Citizens Against Rigging the System, who have taken over 80% of their funding from a single out of state special interest group”

PDC records show that Citizens Against Rigging the System (CARS) is funded entirely by two organizations: Fair Vote of Takoma, Maryland and a political action committee that shares CARS’s P.O. Box.  Of the total $27,000 contributed to CARS, $22,000 has been donated by Fair Vote and $5,000 from the PAC that is itself heavily funded by Fair Vote.

It appears that Fair Vote’s contribution is the largest to a Pierce County Charter Amendment campaign on record.

CARS opposes the three elections reform charter amendments  that will appear on this November’s ballot, which includes repealing the costly and unfair “Ranked Choice Voting” system which Pierce County experimented with in 2008.

Hays explained the unusual donation, “We know that Ranked Choice Voting rewards political extremism and distorts elections to give more power to the far left and the far right, Fair Vote represents the far left in the effort push Ranked Choice Voting on the people of America.”

Other serious issues make the Fair Vote contribution troubling.  Fair Vote is listed as a 501 (c) (3) organization and it appears cannot lawfully donate to CARS.  Fair Vote’s donors are not disclosed, effectively allowing the extremist organization to inject secret campaign cash into CARS or even money that would otherwise be revealed to be an illegal contribution to CARS.

“To illustrate the danger Fair Vote represents through an admittedly extreme example,” said Hays, “this money could be coming from George Soros, the Ku Klux Klan or the Communist Party.”

“Secret money is funny money and poses a real danger to democracy.  This money must be returned.   Fair Vote must fully disclose its current donors,” said Hays.

Pierce County Charter Amendments 1, 2 and 3 will appear on the general election ballot.  These measures will together shift county elections to odd numbered years, set a limit of three terms of service for County Executive and County Council and repeal the Ranked Choice Voting system the county experimented with in 2008. The PCBGL, through its allied political action committee the PCBGL Voter Education Fund, will support all three charter amendments as part of the League’s commitment to good government reforms.

Neither the PCBGL nor the PCBGL Voter Education Fund will solicit or accept contributions from donors outside Washington State.  All league activity through the time period of the election is funded through the VEF, which further guarantees compliance with disclosure requirements.  “The effort to approve 1, 2 and 3 will be locally funded,” concluded Hays.

Learn more at www.pcbgl.org


From Kelly Haughton:

Pro-Rigging Group Tries to Change the Subject

With Losing Issues, PCBGL Tries to Attack Messenger

Last week, Alex Hayes and the so-called Pierce County Better Government League (PCBGL) issued a news release attacking Citizens Against Rigging the System and some of its sources of funding.

Kelly Haughton of Citizens Against Rigging the System dismissed the attacks. “This is a case of a political operative trying the usual tricks of attack politics. When you don’t have majority support for your candidate or your issue, you resort to attacks on your opponent. But it’s not going to work because we have the strength of argument — and electoral majority — on our side.”

Citizens Against Rigging the System was formed this year to oppose charter amendments one, two and three — a set of measures designed to personally benefit board members of PCBGL as well as other members of the County Council. The amendments would make it possible for incumbents to stay in office for over a decade by extending their own terms, double how much they can raise from their largest contributors, reduce political competition and move selected offices to lower turnout odd-year elections. Headed by county incumbent politicians, the PCBGL was formed to promote their own careers by rigging the system in their favor.

In the specific case of ranked choice voting, the county council is trying to undo a charter amendment proposed through the traditional charter revision process in 2006 and passed by the voters that year and upheld by a landslide margin in 2007 when first attacked by the county council. In the first ranked choice voting elections in 2008, the number of competitive elections and candidates jumped significantly from the previous system. The system has the strong support of many county civic leaders, including the League of Women Voters of Pierce County. PCBGL wants to restrict the number of candidates running for county level positions. The measures they are advocating are designed to give us a repeat of 2006 when the five incumbents ran for re-election — four of them unopposed — the other with only token opposition.

“Rather than try to defend the county council’s latest attack on our charter,” said Haughton, “incumbent-laden PCBGL makes bizarre accusations against those defending the charter and county voters.”

The largest contributor to Citizens Against Rigging the System is FairVote – The Center for Voting and Democracy. FairVote is a highly respected national organization that is widely recognized as the leading backer of ranked choice voting. Its board chair is musician Krist Novoselic, a Washington resident who used to live in Tacoma. Other board members include New Yorker magazine essayist Hendrik Hertzberg, the Advancement Project’s Eddie Hailes and former Republican Congressman and presidential candidate John Anderson. Foundation funders for its projects include the Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation. For many years, it has been designed as an organization that can receive gifts from the Combined Federal Campaign.

More specifically, PCBGL alleges that FairVote as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization cannot make a donation to a committee organized to take positions on ballot measures. This is false, as they should know from reviewing the IRS code and the Public Disclosure Commission’s website. Organizations like FairVote can devote up to 20% of their income to advocacy for and against ballot measures and legislation. It is following standard practice. A quick perusal of the PDC website shows several ballot committees in Washington receiving contributions from national organizations.

FairVote’s board chair Krist Novoselic commented, “We are proud to support all the grassroots activists and groups like the League of Women Voters working hard for a better democracy in Pierce County. I attended Pierce County Charter Review Commission meetings in 2006 in support of the many people testifying on behalf of IRV and improved voter choice. We supported the charter commission’s recommendations for ranked choice voting in 2006 and are pleased to be able to support those defending that victory in 2009. Not all incumbent politicians like ranked choice voting, but voters like having better choices and more competition.””

Citizens Against Rigging the System encourages Pierce County voters to reject all three self-serving charter amendments.


Leave a comment Comments → 22
  1. khaughton says:

    The incumbent county politicians are raising money from people and entities with business before the County Council (e.g. Norm LeMay and Miles Sand and Gravel) to fund their attempt to reach incumbent nirvana, the Top 1 election system.

    The Pierce County Council sees the five King County Council incumbents running for re-election (four without opposition) and wants to have such a system in Pierce. The voters want choices like they had in 2008.

    Reject all three charter amendments.

  2. dennyknowles says:

    Lets not beat around the bush – this is an effort to first and foremost save Shawn Bunney’s job by attempting to add another 4 year term to the 7.5 years he has been on PC Council already. He wants another shot at Executive. If you look at the big money donors supporting the Better Government League, most have also dontated to Bunney over the years as well. Just because Bunney has lined up Rick Talbert and Mark Lindquist to made the League look non-partisan, does not mean we are stupid enough to think this is an attempt at keeping Shawn on the payroll and with a majority at his beck and call. Hays runs deep in the Repulican Party as well. Lindquist better watch who he ties his wagon too since his election to actually try and earn the job as PC Prosecutor (He was appointed by Bunney and the rest of the PC Council) is a year out. I am surprised theTAcoma Cops and Fireman have given Lindquist money already considering he is running with the Republicans.
    I would also hope that the Justice League…woops I meant the Good Government League would stop saying “Repeal RCV” by approving 1,2,3 that is a bait and switch. God Bless America.

  3. S_Emerson says:

    There’s an interesting comment about Alex Hayes by Glynnis Kirchmeier on The Melon regarding the Pierce County Charter Amendments discussion at the TPL:

    “…after the event I went up to speak to Mr. Hays about whether moving elections to odd-numbered years would cost more money. He’s of the opinion it would not. While we discussed this, another voter came up and asked what we were talking about. Mr. Hays turned to him and said, “Oh, we’re talking about how IRV is a waste of money.” I exclaimed, “What? That’s not what we were talking about at all!” I’m not sure why he thought I wouldn’t notice him lying.”

    I too encountered similar *spinning* by Alex Hayes during a phone call he made to me, and in several email threads we shared. He doesn’t seem to hear what people say, or write, as they say and write, but rather what he wants them to have said and written.

    Mr. Hayes’ answered one of my questions- “How much are you being paid to run this campaign?”, saying that they didn’t have the money yet, but that he was going to be paid “probably $10,000”.

    He answered another question- “Who hired you to run the campaign?” with a long-winded answer which included the names of Shawn Bunney, Rick Talbert and Mark Lindquist.

    BTW, the <a href="http://piercecountytermlimits.org"Reject Amendment 1 effort is being run by citizen volunteers who fully disclose who they are on their website. This cannot be said about PCBGL who, even after being asked several times, has not disclosed their claimed list of “non-partisan community leaders” members. The secrecy does not surprise me, given Mr. Hayes’ propensity to stretch the truth and overexaggerate.

  4. mmrussell67 says:

    Yeah, I noticed it too and so have others. The PCBGL signs around town now say – Quote: “Repeal Ranked Choice Voting – Approve 1, 2 & 3″

    Huhh…Props 1 & 2 have absolutely nothing to do with Ranked Choice Voting – Only prop 3 does.

    This is deceptive, bait and switch wording tricks – typical of politician and lawyer types. Which, I guess makes sense since it’s really just the insiders, politicians and lawyers pushing for Prop 1, 2 and 3.

  5. S_Emerson says:

    Correction to my last post, given I goofed the html:

    BTW, the Reject Amendment 1 effort is being run by citizen volunteers who fully disclose who they are on their website. This cannot be said about PCBGL who, even after being asked several times, has not disclosed their claimed list of “non-partisan community leaders” members. The secrecy does not surprise me, given Mr. Hayes’ propensity to stretch the truth and overexaggerate.

  6. S_Emerson says:

    I’m also curious why Dick Muri would sit on the PCBGL board when he has publically stated that he will not be supporting this repeal attempt on RCV.

    Pierce County Councilmember Dick Muri’s statement on RCV (his own words last December)

    Interestingly, Instant Run Off Voting is actually the base methodology used by the political parties to decide delegates, county chairs, state chairs and national chairs. The parties use Run-off Voting because they have a manageable amount of voters (less than 1,000). The parties do consecutive multiple elections with criteria on eliminating those who do not receive enough votes to be in contention. Thus if your first choice is eliminated, you can then vote for second choice then third choice, etc. The thus do multiple elections in one afternoon and eliminate people along the way. So it is the method of choice among the political parties to get a consensus candidate and not have a spoiler effect, so it’s interesting that the preferred method is now our method, and I think we should keep it.

    It is my opinion, 2008 IRV/RCV went well except for a few needed areas of improvement. County auditor counting procedures because of software and computing power requirements and other small things that have now been improved and will allow for, hopefully, daily reporting of the results. And we did have some problems at the polling places due to large turnout—a few less polling places, and now where we live, the new federal law allows the military to register to vote, and vote on the day of the election—and literally, I think there was close to 1,000 people who registered that day and voted that day, and that also made a lot more work for the polling sites because those were all provisional ballots.

    Then the other question is – the Top-2 Primary—because people are saying we like the Top-2 Primary, well that’s still in doubt. There’s still lawsuits and negotiations going on and it’s interesting that it might be resolved before this November election and we might see that we have Pick-a-Party Primary again, and then people may, if this charter amendment proposal does pass today, they’ll hopefully be voting ‘no’ on Charter Amendment number 3.

    Also, to answer Mr. Paulson’s question about the cost of the election, there is already going to be a County-wide ballot in November because we do have two other charter amendments that have already been approved.

    I plan to vote no on this Charter Amendment because I think it’s a good system, and I’d like to see it get one more shot at it and see how it works. If it doesn’t work this November, then I’ll be right with you all in 2010 to put this amendment on the ballot.

  7. raconnolly says:

    Kelly is correct that the PCBGL is trying to change the subject. But what’s surprising is the recklessness of making this an issue given what Hays and the council ought to keep hidden. After seeing this post I did a search at the Washington Public Disclosure Commission’s website for the Pierce County Better Government League. The report is available at
    http://www.pdc.wa.gov/QuerySystem/politicalcommittees.aspx Here are the 4 top contributors:


    I’m willing to bet that these contributors have either received contracts or plan to bid for contracts in the future with the County Council. That is, they are giving money to support amendments placed on the ballot by County Councilmembers and probably also have economic dealings that the same councilmembers will vote on. How much return might a business get for a $5,000 contribution/investment?

    But such corruption involving local politicians and businesses will hardly shock people so let’s keep the campaign focused on the real issues.

    Voters have a choice between two terms (8 years) and three terms (12 years) for councilmembers. Incumbents have tremendous advantages and quite often run unopposed. A limit of two terms means more open seats and thus more interesting, competitive elections.

    Voters also have a choice between instant runoff voting and plurality voting. IRV means less fundraising, equal ballot access for independents, more candidates, and no lesser-of-two-evils dilemmas.

    Thus voters should reject amendments 1 and 3. Amendment 2 is so bad that it hardly needs attention; if voters don’t fall for the attempt to hide term limits behind the move to odd years in amendment 1, then passing 2 leads to county elections every year. Amendment 2 is merely collateral dishonesty.

    Rich Anderson-Connolly

  8. smcelhiney says:

    The Lemays? Are you kidding me? They already got BILLIONS in return when the Council slammed through the no bid let them decide however much they want to charge garbage contract for the next 20+ years to help them make the landfill a tastier morsel for the out of state company that was buying it and will be taking all our money out along with the garbage.

    They are also major developers, they are sucking up for the museum space at the Tacoma Dome site yada yada. Ultimate insiders even though Norman doesn’t live in Pierce County.

    Miles Sand and Gravel… Auburn… King County

    Schurr Bros… developers… the industry that has effectively owned this county’s government for decades with the rest of us picking up the tab for those playing political games to enrich themselves while trashing our environment.

    Vote NO on 1,2,3 Be an extremist … otherwise known as someone with some basic sense.

  9. smcelhiney says:

    How far do you think the County will go with prosecuting Jan Shabro for Elections Fraud since Jan appears to be the one that committed fraud as well as doling out bad legal advice without a license to practice law.

    Just a thought…

  10. Pierce County, Washington has had plenty of problems with the special Instant runoff voting/IRV/RCV software and also increased annual costs to run elections:

    FairVote Director Rob Richie lamented problems with IRV voting machines:
    April 24, 2008. Fair Vote Director, Rob Richie’s statement at the April 24 2008 Federal Election Assistance Commission Roundtable Discussion: … He said: “for instant runoff voting, or preferential voting methods, it often bangs up against the fact that voting equipment isn’t flexible enough to handle these voting methods…. It has real life impact. It’s also creating havoc for Pierce County, Washington, a county of 800,000 people which have a big county executive race and they don’t know if their system is going to be ready

    The Secretary of State of Washington granted “emergency” permission in May 2008 for Pierce County to use uncertified software on Seqouia machines, even though flaws were found in the WinEDS (central tabulating system). Touchscreens were certified on an emergency basis, but not the precinct optical scanners. All optical scan ballots will be hauled off to the county office to be tabulated

    PIERCE COUNTY WASHINGTON. Reporting actual costs of IRV for their first IRV election. From an official recap of their 2008 IRV election:

    “It cost 2 million to implement an uncertified system for 375,589 votes – or $5.33 per registered voter! That is on top of the regular costs of their election system. And in two of the three races that used IRV to decided the “winner”, the “winner” didn’t get a majority of the first column votes cast! Now 2 out of 3 voters in Pierce County want to ditch IRV after their first election!” – comments Chris Telesca of No IRV for NC blog.
    How much did it cost?
    2008 General Election Costs $1,664,542
    RCV One Time Costs $857,025 – Software, Education, Equipment
    RCV Ongoing Costs $769,773 – Printing, Paper, Envelopes, Education, Staff
    RCV Subtotal $1,626,798
    Total Costs $3,291,340

    The County needed an additional 4 more charter amendments to clarify the implementation of IRV before they could move forward. In 2008 the county had to apply for Emergency/Provisional permission to use the new IRV capable voting machines. The machines are still pending State and Federal Certification. During the certification it was determined that the Polling Place Tabulators (Insights) could not be used. The precinct scanners were “Not robust enough to handle RCV ballot image, would not support multiple precincts”. As a result, Pierce adopted central counting of the ballots. They hred 114 Ballot Transporters and Ballot Processors and instituted 24 hour shifts to check in, visually scan and tabulate polling place ballots. The county hired and trained over 600 staff. Officials worked “24 hours per day for one week to tabulate ballots followed by 17 hour days up to certification.”

    Other costs/complications included increased postage – there were two ballot papers, one regular ballot and one IRV ballot. The county decided to pay the postage because they “did not want an extra stamp to be a deterrent to returning both ballots.”

  11. I am in a state where there have been 2 IRV pilots, with IRV declining after being rejected by Cary NC and only 1 town, Hendersonville trying it again. Hendersonville tried IRV in 2007, but never had to count the votes, thank heavens, since it is on touchscreens and there is no software to tally it.

    WHO pushed IRV in North Carolina? Was there a major hue and cry for it?
    No. I led the fight for paper ballots and THAT was grassroots activism. People all over the state worked together to get a law passed.

    But IRV is driven from the national group FairVote. The fact is, there were no citizens clamoring for IRV in North Carolina. Its FairVote.If you say League of Women Voters supports it here and there, well, the fact is many FairVote people have joined LWV and so can you – if you want to influence it. FairVote swoops in and spends money while there is no organized opposition, so folks like Alex and others in Aspen, Minnesota, California and in North Carolina have to fight a national organization.

    Dollars spent on direct lobbying for IRV in Minneapolis MN, Pierce Co WA, Oakland and Davis, CA

    There’s plenty of money spent on lobbying for Instant Runoff Voting, aka IRV aka Ranked Choice Voting or RCV, around the US. Imagine if the same amount was spent lobbying to provide the other side of the coin – the transparency and practicality issues with IRV.
    As it stands now, some jurisdictions just accept the pro IRV talking points and do not do research about administering IRV, IRV results, and fiscal analysis of IRV administration. What happens when money is spent on providing pros and cons of this type of voting method? In Britsh Columbia, the government funded both the pro and anti STV groups, and – and the majority of voters said no to STV.

    See June 9, 2009 Single Transferrable Vote Defeated Fair and Square in BC – Pro and Con Groups Funded by Provincial Govt Equally …The provincial government gave $500,000 to two groups, British Columbians for BC-STV (aka Fair Voting B.C.) and No STV, which ran the official “yes” and “no” campaigns for this year’s referendum.

    So how much was spent on direct lobbying for IRV in the US? Here’s some data from the 2005, 2006 and 2007 990 filings found at http://www.guidestar.org/.

    According to FairVote’s 2007 990 form, page 17:

    FairVote engaged in direct lobbying in several instances:

    We supported with minimal expenses a ballot measure on instant runoff voting in Springfield (IL.) in the spring of 2007 and spent $18,400 in direct support of ballot measures for instant runoff voting in Sarasota (FL) and Clallam County (WA)in November 2007 and support through staff time, primarily that of our instant runoff voting program director and a full-time field organizer in Sarasota. We spent much more limited amount of staff time to support additional ballot measures on instant runoff voting in Aspen (CO) and Pierce COunty (WA) – the Aspen money primarily in the form of the executive director’s advocacy of the city council in its deliberations to place the measure on the ballot.

    FairVote spent $6,250 to fund lobbying activity for consultants in Vermont on instant runoff voting legislation. A limited amount of th etime of FairVote’s executive director was also devoted to this project.

    According to FairVote’s 2006 990 form, page 34:

    FairVote engaged in direct lobbying in several instance:

    We allocated a total of $43,419 to campaigns and organizations that supported passage of Charter Amendment Three for instant runoff voting in Pierce County, Washington. We had additional in-kind contributions of staff time and list purchases of more than $10,000 to that cmapaign.

    We allocated $15,000 to a campaign to adopt ranked voting methods (instant runoff voting for some offices and choice voting for others) in Minneapolis.

    We provided gifts of $5,500 to the campaign for choice voting in Davis, California and some staff time to this campaignt.

    We allocated just under $5,000 to a campaign for instant runoff voting in Oakland, California. Earlier in the year, a consultant was paid for work in California that included some efforts to lobby the Oakland city council to place instant runoff voting on the ballot.

    We worked with consultants in Vermont on instant runoff voting, with half of the time involved with lobbying the legislature on legislation to establish instant runoff voting for congressional offices.

    And FairVote’s 2005 990

    FairVote engaged in a limited amount of direct lobbying – a total of less than $6,000 — in several circumstances detailed as follows:

    More than half of the year’s direct lobbying related to enacting instant runoff voting in Burlington, Vermont. First, instant runoff voting was on the ballot as a charter amendment in the city in March 2005. We donated $2,000 to the Voters’ Choice Coalition that worked to pass the amendment and paid $300 to part-time consultant Terry Bouricius to assist the campaign. The legislature then needed to approve the city’s charter change. We used $500 to pay two consultants (Terry Bourisius and Jesse Rosado) to lobby successfully for the bill’s passage.

    Instant runoff voting also was placed on the November 2005 ballot by the city council of Takoma Park, where our organization is based. Our executive director spent time making the case for instant runoff voting and for a proposal to count ballots with paper ballots to the city council and was joined by staff members David Moon and Ryan O’Donnell and program associate Adam Johnson in putting a limited amount of time into assisting the local campaign committee.. FairVote also donated $200 directly to the local campaign committee.

    FairVote supported several congressional bills on its website, and put a limited time into lobbying on behalf of porposed constitutional amendments HJR 28 and H$ 36. …California consultant Chris Jerdonek spent a limited time lobbying the Alameda County Council to allow the City of Berkely to implement instant runoff voting.


    Its mostly a marketing campaign. If IRV worked, it wouldn’t need such forceful marketing, it would sell itself. Other rereforms such as Fusion Voting, or even campaign finance and easier ballot access have better success at strengthening third parties or independents than does IRV.

  12. You’ve gotta love the irony of a woman from North Carolina complaining about non-Pierce County folks being involved in our affairs.

  13. RobRichie says:

    Thanks, Joyce, for detailing ways FairVote has made a difference in partnering with community leaders in advancing democracy. You can also see us address this on our website, http://www.fairvote.org

    I should emphasize that these are partnerships. All but one of the more than a dozen communities adopting instant runoff voting in the past decade did so after a vote of their city council or a charter commission (the one exception, Sarasota, passed IRV 78% to 22%), and there always have been local volunteers supporting the reform. Pierce County is a good example. The Pierce County charter commission recommended instant runoff voting on its own. The League of Women Voters of Washington and the League of Women Voters of Pierce County studied and supported instant runoff voting on their own.Volunteers like Kelly Haughton, Rich Anderson-Connally and local League members have put in incredible numbers of hours leading reform efforts.

    In your home state of North Carolina, the state legislature passed the IRV pilot bill in 2006 and the governor signed it without FairVote spending a dime on lobbying. North Carolina groups like Common Cause, League of Women Voters and Democracy North Carolina have reviewed IRV and backed it — with the League voting overwhelmingly doing so after the experience of the 2007 pilots and all your “hate-IRV” information. The state legislature in NC rejected your views and expanded the pilot to more jurisdictions and extended it for three years.

    You like to talk about Cary (NC) not using IRV this year, but seem to skip over the reality of the city’s survey in 2008 that echoed the findings of an NC State exit poll: landslide support or the IRV system they had just used. On a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being most opposed to IRV to 9 being most in favor of IRV, 67% indicated a 7 or higher (including 51% indicating the highest level of 9) while only 7% indicated 3 or less. Furthermore, the county’s board of elections indicated its support for administering its new system, reporting that it saved more than $20,000 by avoiding a second-round runoff in one city council race.

    On voting machines, I would hope you would agree that new machines should be ready to run IRV elections, as they could do so. You have fought against that in NC, however, and then bemoaned the fact that machines can’t run IRV elections as they should. Ironically, you have finally joined our call for publicly owned, public interest voting equipment — perhaps there we can find common ground as long as you will agree that this equipment should be ready to run election methods that local majorities want to use.

  14. Its very flattering that activist from NC and activist/marketing for fairvote are making arguments about IRV/RCV for us in little old Pierce County. This is a Pierce County issue that will be decided by Pierce County voters. What the majority of people vote is what we will have and it is that simple. If the people of PC want RCV then they will vote to keep it, if they dont want it, they will vote it out. Either way, people on at least 1 side are going to be angry and hurt because they didnt get their way. From what I hear, a very large majority of Pierce County voters hated RCV. They are the ones that will decide. Dont trust the polls regardless of how they swing, talk to the real people.

  15. sloremodeler says:

    Dennyknowles: I couldn’t agree more with your assessment. I just received a campaign piece that talks about repealing RCV by essentially voting in support of all three ballot measures! Basically, they make it sound like if you hate RCV – you should vote yes for Prop 1,2 & 3. Your right Denny – bait & switch. Bunney is trying to secure a job living off of the taxpayers for at least 6 more years. Let’s see, Shawn was a staff person @ Pierce County for over 15 years before running for the Council. His wife also works for a non-profit that gets most of its’ funding from government support, of which Bunney gets to vote for when they adopt the budget. The Bunney’s love tax-payer $$. I just hope the citizens can see thru this bait & switch.

  16. FairVote strategy is same in all 50 states.
    FairVote NC set up shop. Cary NC in Wake Co was first volunteer for IRV.
    The then Wake Co BoE Chairman (now former chairman).daughter in law was also the Director of FairVoteNC. The former chairman was a big supporter and flew to Minnesota to testify FOR IRV to lawmakers there.
    Cary town council was rushed into IRV pilot. This year they said no after several public hearings. They said public input was half and half but fuzzy math was not worth it.

    The FairVote talking points were used to sell IRV. Pierce Co certainly learned that the claim of majority wins and cost savings were not true.
    Cary, NC learned the hard way that it did not improve elections and reduced debate and clear choice of top two.

    FairVote has a 50 state strategy, they do the same thing state after state.
    If no one speaks up, jurisdictions learn the hard way and election integrity is harmed. Many compromises in transparency have to be made in order to enable IRV. It isn’t worth it.

    Rob Richie says a majority of Cary, NC voters polled said they liked IRV. There’s an interesting story about FairVote’s involvement in that exit poll here:

    Rob Richie says people like IRV.
    Well, anti-freeze tastes good but you shouldn’t drink it either.

    The big problem is that a significant % of voters do not understand IRV:

    An exit poll (conducted using IRV advocates) of Hendersonville NC voters in 2007 indicated that one third of voters came to the polls unprepared to rank their choices. In Cary, North Carolina’s 2008 bi-annual citizen survey, 30.6% did not understand IRV, and 22.0% polled did not understand IRV at all. That is shocking when you consider that Cary has the most Ph.D.s per capita in the U.S. for towns larger than 75,000 people

    And it doesn’t get better.

    July 3, 08 San Francisco Grand Jury Report: poll workers and voters do not understand instant runoff, voting machines not yet certified…. Grand Jury Report

  17. newswatch says:

    Ditto sloremodeler. This is all about Bunney, Muri, etc hanging onto their jobs for longer so they can safely run again. They are trying to change the subject in hopes we don’t notice.

    As to who is funding the two sides, I would much rather go with money from a respected organization such as FairVote than dirty money from folks who are looking for handouts and paybacks from the County Council.

    And from the looks of that glossy, expensive mailer, it seems like all they know how to do is attack, attack, attack. No wonder Bunney couldn’t win his RCV race against McCarthy, even though he out-spent her almost 4 to 1.

    I say Reject.

  18. PrincipalSkinner says:

    Krist and Nirvana did rock, but Rank Choice Voting does not. Has anyone noticed that Props 1, 2, and 3 are three different subjects? Hey, Denny K-Dog, isn’t a good thing that Lindquist and Talbert are bi-partisan since you sound like you don’t like partisan peeps? p.s. Come As You Are is the most awesome song!

  19. randalmm says:

    Could the Richard Muri who is a contributor the the pcbgl be the same as the council member who would benefit from the passage of the charter amendments? With the 3 self serving amendments would that not be a conflict if true?

    Ranked choice voting is what separates us from the voter apathy current in political races. In Seattle the candidates for Mayor were chosen by less than 5% of the registered voters. Do we want to go back to that typer of system. I would prefer to have a larger percentage of the voters choosing the candidates which is what the council is trying to eliminate.

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