Voters Pass IRV Charter Amendments!
On Election Day 2000, Oakland (CA) passed a charter amendment to fill vacanies on city council using special elections. The charter amendment specifies the use of preference (instant runoff) voting "to the greatest extent feasible." [NOTE: Oakland passed another such amendment for mayoral vacancies in March 2002.]
In nearby San Leandro, voters adopted a city charter amendment to use majority runoff (two-round runoff ) elections for city council with the option to use instant runoff voting when the technology is available.
The Oakland charter amendment provides for special elections to fill vacancies on the city council. Previously, the city council had appointed members to fill vacancies. The charter amendment includes the use of instant runoff voting and other means to boost participation in special elections, which is often quite low. This measure passed by a nearly 3-1 margin. Full text of the charter amendment appears below.
San Leandro voters decided to switch from plurality elections to majority (two-round) runoff elections, with the option of using an instant runoff. Text of the charter amendment appears below. The measure passed by a nearly 2-1 margin:
WHEREAS, Oakland City Charter section 205 provides for City Council vacancies to be filled by appointment; and
WHEREAS, a more democratic method for filling vacancies would be to provide for special elections to fill City Council vacancies by amending Oakland City Charter section 205 and amending Charter section 206 to provide for a vacancy upon the date successful election results are declared when a Councilmember runs for another office for which the Councilmember will take office prior to the end of the Councilmember’s term; and
WHEREAS, section 10400 et seq. of the Elections Code allows for the General Municipal election of November 7, 2000, to be consolidated with the statewide general election to be held on the same date; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED: that the text of the proposed charter amendment shall be as follows:
Section 205. Vacancies, Filling of. All vacancies occurring in the office of Councilmember shall be filled by special election within 120 days of vacancy. An extension of up to 60 days may be allowed for the express purpose of consolidating the special election with the next Municipal Election.
The candidate receiving the highest number of votes at the special election shall be declared the winner and thereafter sworn into office as soon as legally possible.
Whenever the period of vacancy in a Councilmember’s term of office equals or exceeds 120 days the vacancy may be temporarily filled by appointment through a majority vote of the remaining Councilmembers provided the appointee is not a candidate for the office which created the vacancy and provided the appointment does not exceed 128 days or go beyond the date the new incumbent is sworn in, whichever is shortest.
Alternative legal voting methods shall be used to the greatest extent feasible to increase voter participation in special elections including but not limited to mail ballot voting, electronic voting, preference voting and extended voting periods.
Section 206. Vacancy, What Constitutes. An office of Councilmember shall be declared vacant by the Council when the person elected or appointed thereto fails to qualify within ten days after his term is to begin, dies, resigns, ceases to be a resident of the City or of the district from which he was nominated, absents himself continuously from the City for a period of more than thirty days without permission from the Council, absents himself from any ten consecutive regular meetings except on account of his illness or when absent from City by permission of the Council, is convicted of a felony, is judicially determined to be an incompetent, is permanently so disabled as to be unable to perform the duties of his office, forfeits his office under any provision of this Charter, or is removed from office by judicial procedure. A finding of disability shall require the affirmative vote of at least six members of the Council after considering competent medical evidence bearing on the physical or mental capability of the Councilmember. When a Councilmember successfully runs for another office for which the Councilmember will take office prior to the end of the Councilmember’s term, the Councilmember’s office shall be declared vacant on the date final election results are declared for the new office.
The candidate receiving the highest number of votes for the offices of Mayor and Council Members of the City shall be elected to such offices, provided that such candidate receives at least 50% plus one of the votes cast for each such office. In the event that no candidate for such elective office of the City receives at least 50% plus one of the votes cast for that office, the City Council shall provide for a run-off vote to determine the person elected. The City Council shall adopt an ordinance establishing a run-off system. The run-off system may include mailed ballots, an instant run-off voting system when such technology is available to the City, or a special run-off election. The ordinance setting forth the run-off system may be amended from time to time for any reason, but no amendment to the ordinance may take effect less than 103 days prior to any municipal election.