Santa Monica Ranked Voting (SMRV) was scheduled to be discussed at last night’s City Council meeting.
Representatives from the voting reform group want the Council to direct the staff to study the feasibility of adopting and implementing Choice Voting for Santa Monica’s elections.
Choice Voting allows voters to rank their preferences (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.) when they vote in multi-seat elections, such as Santa Monica’s regular city council elections.
With Choice Voting, a group of like-minded voters wins seats in direct proportion to its voting strength. If it wins 25 percent of the vote, it will hold 25 percent of the seats.
In 1992, a City Charter Review Commission recommended Choice Voting for Santa Monica’s City Council elections, but the City Council did not accept the charter commission’s recommendation.
In making their case, the Choice Vote advocates noted that though 52 percent of Santa Monica residents are women, only one of the current seven Council members is a woman, no Pico neighborhood resident has ever sat on the Council, and the Council is all-white, though the city’s population is 22% non-white, according to the 2000 census.
They also released a study last year showing that consistently one third of Santa Monicans are not casting all of the votes allotted to them, along with letters of support from the Commission on the Status of Women, the Pico Neighborhood Association and the Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Association.
Two Council members, Kevin McKeown and Mayor Pro Tempore Herb Katz, have also endorsed the use of ranked voting for Santa Monica’s elections.
“This feasibility study will be a dramatic step toward the goal of giving more power to the voter” said Amy Connolly, who leads SMRV. “We hope that the study will clarify exactly what steps we need to take to achieve fairer elections in Santa Monica.”San Francisco held its first ranked voting election last November.