Monday, May 09, 2005

Strategy Development for Voter Confidence Resolution

The first thing I saw Monday morning was the Eureka Times-Standard mention of the Humboldt County Green Party's General Assembly coming up this Saturday at the Redwood Peace and Justice Center. In February, at their last Assembly they endorsed an earlier version of what is now the Voter Confidence Resolution. I didn't quite get the follow-up support I had hoped for but then we didn't have the Arcata City Council preparing to officially vote on the resolution. June 15 is the tentative date.

The Voter Confidence Committee met earlier this evening. We will continue to gather Mondays at the Liquid Cafe. Everyone is welcome to join us. Starting next week we'll begin at 6pm. Most of tonight's meeting was follow-up work on the recent town hall forum on preferential voting. We'll be doing some phone banking this week to touch base with people who signed in at the event.

We also discussed some strategy for the Voter Confidence Resolution. It has always been regarded as a template, and as a work in progress. At this point, I'm trying to smooth out my awkward choice to deflect further input over to Dave Meserve and Harmony Groves, the Arcata City Councilmembers designated for the subcommittee duty of editing the resolution before bringing it up for the vote. As I've said before, people who want to support the resolution can much more effectively do that if they don't spend a lot of time quibbling over precise details they'd like to change in the resolution. We did that for a year.

I'm still interested in what people think. I just want to make sure they share those thoughts with the Councilmembers who of course need to be hearing from the community that there is interest and support. I can say it plainly here: please call members of the Arcata City Council to provide your feedback on the resolution and express your support for its passage. Now I just need to get better at saying that in person.

So at the VCC meeting, we didn't discuss wording, but we did latch on to an add-on concept. Scott pointed out that as a template the Voter Confidence Resolution is passive. It may be most universal right now for circulation on the Web, but to get past the Council it will need to contemplate doing something. This would usually include instructions to forward the resolution to certain people. In this case, I'm recommending the City Councils of the following cities:
Ann Arbor, MI
Asheville, NC
Berkeley, CA
Boulder, CO
Burlington, VT
Ithaca, NY
New Paltz, NY
Portland, ME
Portland, OR
Santa Cruz, CA
San Francisco, CA
I've never laid out this list before, and certainly more cities could be added, but this has always been the basic plan. Responding to my words, published in the Arcata Eye in January, Arcata Mayor Michael Machi has said that he thinks national resolutions are a waste of time. They don't serve to amplify the message of the people, he claims and I agree, because they get sucked into the black hole of Washington DC where nobody is listening to us. I say this doesn't mean we should stop speaking our truths. It means we have to redirect the message to the accountable local leaders of other progressive communities.

Anyway, inclusion of instructions to disseminate is only one part the active component we discussed. We also want to encourage the Council to show support for state bill SB596 which would make it possible for general law (non-charter) cities to implement preferential voting. This could easily be tucked in with reform #8. And finally, we talked about calling for the creation of a commission or committee or task force whose role it would be to study and make recommendations about how to pursue implementation of the full set of eight reforms.

It sure feels like we have momentum again. We also had partial good news from the Supes today. I talked with Jimmy Smith and he spoke about creating an election reform task force. Apparently he's waiting for something to be submitted by Elections Clerk Carolyn Crnich. She, it seems, is really in favor of this. That's a hopeful sign. No word yet on what the scope of the group's work will include. The downside of the chat with Jimmy was that he was unmoved by my arguments about Diebold. It is somewhat galling, considering the Board's position is "minimal compliance." I gave Jimmy this analogy: with a whole bottle full of poison pills, just one is still enough to kill you. There is no safe amount of Diebold in our election systems. A.C.S. (Absolute Common Sense) requirements should permit no more than zero parts per million.



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