Governance Task Force approves Choice Voting recommendation
Two more public meetings to be held before council reviews report

By Lauren Becker
Published March 8th 2005 in California Aggie

Davis may join the ranks of San Francisco and Cambridge, Mass. in adopting Choice Voting now that the Governance Task Force approved a recommendation to consider such methods at its Monday night meeting at the Davis Community Chambers.

The Choice Voting recommendation passed 8-1 with task force member Nick Mariano abstaining. The recommendation will be sent to the city council for approval at a later date.

Members then discussed various changes they hope to implement for the city's election process, including implementing district elections, methods to involve student participation in city government and increasing the number of councilmembers.

Yolo County Clerk Recorder Freddie Oakley addressed the concerns of the task members regarding choice voting.

"In my experience with voters, I have come to see that they are smarter than they are made out to be," Oakely said. "I would not anticipate any difficulty with this new method."

She assured those present that the city is purchasing new voting machines that make Choice Voting a possibility.

City clerk and task force liaison Bette Racki said the inspiration to bring choice voting to Davis came from UC Davis students who took a vested interest in seeing the alternative voting method applied.

"Students have come forward and have been really excited about Choice Voting," Racki said. "They are frustrated with the current election process within the city."

Racki noted the task force's receptiveness to the method, as illustrated by their invitation of several speakers including students who provided the members with further information at their meetings.

Despite university and community support, Racki said she feels councilmembers may not be as willing to change the current election system.

"I'm not sure if the governing group would be happy," Racki said. "It's just not a method that would be advantageous for them come election time."

Davis Citizens for Representation member Chris Jerdonek commented on the beneficial nature of the method as opposed to block voting, which distributes a person's vote to only one candidate.

"It would make things a lot fairer because all voters would be guaranteed representation," Jerdonek said. "For example, it would guarantee that the proportions of liberals and conservatives would be proportionate to the number of liberals and conservatives within the city."

Jerdonek also mentioned that the Representation group researched extensively on Choice Voting effects within the city by analyzing the outcomes of elections as far back as 1960. Results showed that with Choice Voting, voter representation would climb from 50 percent to about 75 percent.

"Choice Voting gives voters the best possible representation," Jerdonek said. "Its goal is to give the greatest number of voters a voice so everyone feels connected to the city government."

Jerdonek noted that the city is fortunate to be considering Choice Voting at this time with UCD serving as a successful model after the student government adopted the method in 2001.

"Within the city we are starting off with a better understanding of choice voting," Jerdonek said. "We can look to the campus and check out how things look."

The task force will hold two more meetings on Mar. 14 and 21. A final report will be made by Apr. 5, which will then be sent to the city council for consideration.

More information on choice voting can be found at the Davis Citizens for Representation website