California Assembly Committee Passes Two IRV Bills and Public Funding Bill

On April 17, the California Assembly Elections Committee passed AB 1662, AB 1294, and AB 583. AB 1662 authorizes use of Instant-Runoff Voting for overseas voters (military and civilian), in any election for which a run-off is potentially required (such as many non-partisan elections, and also special congressional and legislative elections). AB 1294 lets any city or county use IRV or Choice Voting, for its own elections (currently, only charter cities and charter counties may use IRV).

AB 583 provides for public funding for candidates for state office. Independent candidates would need to raise twice as many qualifying $5 contributions, in order to receive public funding, compared to Democrats and Republicans. A witness pointed out that only eight independent candidates have appeared on the California ballot for regularly-scheduled state office in the last 27 years, and that in four of these instances, the independent candidate was elected. In another two instances, the independent placed 2nd but ahead of one of the major party nominees. However, this testimony seemed to make no difference; the bill passed without any amendment to ease the discrimination.


California Assembly Committee Passes Two IRV Bills and Public Funding Bill — No Comments

  1. The number of non-partisan local elections that have runoffs and would therefore be affected by AB 1662 is not “many” as stated above. The bill’s sponsor, Californians for Electoral Reform, is aware of 10 such cities out of 478 in the state, although there may be more we haven’t found. From one point of view (namely, administrative effort) it is good news that the scope of bill can be so limited.

    Clay Shentrup is right that the bill does nothing to make the top-two method more like IRV. It merely allows overseas voters to cast their second-round ballots (by ranking the candidates) at the same time as their first round ballots.

    These points sound like limitations. But given the number of overseas voters who are effectively disenfranchised by tight deadlines and slow communications (20 or 25%), this is a worthwhile reform.

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