Vermont IRV Bill Passes

On May 3, the Vermont legislature passed H505, which authorizes the city of Burlington to use Instant-Runoff Voting for its Mayoral elections. The voters of Burlington voted to use IRV in March 2005, but that change couldn’t go into effect until the legislature acted to amend the city’s charter, which H505 does.

DC Voting Rights Bill Introduced

On May 3, Congressman Tom Davis (R-Virginia) introduced HR 2043. It temporarily expands the size of the US House of Representatives, until 2011. It would give a full seat to the District of Columbia, and another seat to Utah. Utah is the state that came closest to getting another seat in the reapportionment of 2001. Since it is expected that the new Utah seat would elect a Republican, and the new District of Columbia seat would likely choose a Democrat, Davis hopes both major parties will support his bill.

West Virginia Bill Signed

On May 3, the Governor of West Virginia signed HB 3002, which deletes an obsolete law that inhibits petition circulators. The old law, now repealed, says petition circulators must tell potential signers that they can’t sign the petition if that voter wants to vote in the upcoming primary.

British Columbia Referendum

On May 17, the voters of British Columbia will decide whether to implement Single-Transferable Voting for elections to the provincial legislature. STV is the same as Instant-Runoff Voting, except it applies to multi-winner elections. If it passes, there will be constituencies that elect between two and seven members to the Provincial legislative. This would make it possible for parties with as little as one-seventh of the vote (in some constituencies) to elect one representative. The same system was used in New York city between 1937 and 1947, and resulted in 5 parties being represented on the city council.

In order to pass, the measure must receive at least 60% of the vote, and it must pass in 48 of the 79 districts.

US Supreme Court News

There will be no U.S. Supreme Court opinions during May until May 16. There will also be opinions on May 23 and May 31. One of the 35 cases which has been argued, but for which no opinion has yet been issued, is Clingman v Beaver, 04-37. That decision may come out on May 23. This is the case originally filed by the Oklahoma Libertarian Party in 2000, on the issue of whether a party may insist that all registered voters be allowed to vote in its primary.

In the Oregon Nader case, no. 04-872, the Court has not yet announced the date on which it will consider whether to take that case. It is called Kucera v Bradbury. Other Nader ballot access cases still pending (in lower courts) are from Arizona, Hawaii, and Ohio.