Proposal – GPCA Election Code

(for Apr. 2006 GA)


SPONSOR:      Electoral Reform Working Group


Jim Stauffer,, 408-432-9148
Warner Bloomberg,, 408- 295-9353

SUBJECT:  California Elections Code sections for the GPCA.

Please download the draft elections code sections from the plenary web site –

You can also read the code online at



Voting System Terminology (as used in this proposal and the GPCA Elections Code):



Ranked Voting – Generic term for the various voting systems where voters rank their ballot choices in order of preference.


Single Transferable Vote – A form of RV that includes IRV and AV as well multi-seat elections (e.g. City Council). In its multi-seat form, it is the most common form of nonpartisan Proportional Representation voting.


Alternative Vote – A technical name for the RV system  we call IRV (Instant Runoff Voting). Used for single-seat elections (e.g. Mayor). AV is a special form of STV used for these single-winner elections.


See AV.


Limited Voting – A semi-proportional system (non RV) used for multi-seat elections that prevents a majority bloc from winning all seats. This system can be implemented without hardware of software changes to any voting equipment.


Single Non-Transferable Vote - A semi-proportional system used for multi-seat elections. A specialized form of LV that limits the voter to one choice, thereby accomplishing maximum proportionality.


None Of The Above – A voting option on the Primary ballot for the current election system. A vote for NOTA signifies no candidate should move to the General Election.


No Other Choice - A voting option on the Primary ballot for ranked voting elections. A voter ranks NOC last to indicate the end of their ranking, thereby signifying that no other candidates are acceptable.


Each political party is required to have their own sections of the elections code that address two subjects:
1) primary elections, and 2) party structure. This proposal is to establish our sections of the elections code.

Here are the main points of what we’re trying to accomplish with these election code sections.

1.       Ranked Voting (RV) – RV is a generic term to indicate voting methods such as Condorcet, STV and IRV (single-winner STV, also called Alternative Vote, or AV). We specify RV for three kinds of elections.

A.  For presidential primaries, we specify single-winner RV, and that the raw results be provided by the state to the party. This will allow us to use successive IRV or Condorcet counting to rank the overall preferences of our primary voters, so that our presidential convention delegates will have guidance from the voters beyond their first choice. Presidential primaries are different from other primaries in that they do not directly select the candidate who will appear on the general election ballot, so the procedure for presidential primaries is different from direct primaries.

B.   For direct primaries, we specify single-winner RV (IRV) with the state tabulating the results. IRV improves the chances that we have a true majority (rather than plurality) choice, and allows voters to sincerely rank their true preferences without worrying about spoiler effects.

C.   For county council elections, we specify STV, so that our county councils are elected with proportional representation, rather than the current majority-take-all system. For counties where voting equipment does not support STV, we provide the option of Limited Voting (or SNTV: single non-transferable vote), a semi-PR system not requiring ballot ranking. We have chosen not to provide an NOC option in our county council elections, to avoid problems with interpretation that might conflict with the court decision mentioned below.

For the use of STV and LV systems, the elections code will contain only a statement that these systems will be used (STV) or may be optionally used (LV or SNTV). The details of how we will conduct such elections will be in our bylaws. This allows us more flexibility in fine-tuning these systems.

2.       NOTA/NOC (none of the above / no other choice) –  NOTA is applicable to single-choice elections (the current system); NOC is applicable to ranked elections (eg IRV).

We once had the use of NOTA in our primaries but were sued by the Secretary of State and had to cease. In our 1995 appeal (GPCA v. Jones), the court upheld the SoS, citing issues of ambiguity and minority rule that could result from using NOTA. This time we define NOTA and NOC in a manner that addresses the court’s concerns. This may not be the optimal usage of NOTA/NOC, but we feel this is what we can accomplish without having to fund another lawsuit. Here are the characteristics:

A.     NOTA/NOC must receive a majority to win a primary. The court did not allow NOTA/NOC to win by plurality on the grounds that a majority of voters wanted to see a candidate in the general election, even if it was a candidate they did not vote for. This is especially disputable in the cast of ranked voting, but we are choosing not to dispute it.

B.     For ranked voting, NOC is used to indicate the end of ranking. Allowing voters to continue ranking beyond NOC creates an ambiguity: 1) contradiction of terms ("no other choice" but the voter does indicate other choices); 2) if the voter does not continue ranking, was it accident or intention? Our intent is to ignore any choices listed lower than NOC.

C.     Single-winner ranked voting is identified as Alternative Voting rather than IRV since that is the terminology used by the IDEA handbook.

3.       National Affiliation – Earlier drafts specifically identified GPUS as the national party with which we are affiliated. We’ve changed this to say, “...the national political party with which the Green Party has affiliated." Prior to each presidential primary the SoS already requests us to state our national party affiliation, so this phrasing works well with the existing system.

4.       Voting Equipment – Not all counties have equipment that is certified to handle ranked ballot elections, so in all cases we have defined alternative methods for use in these cases. We expect that as counties comply with HAVA (the Help America Vote Act), they will adopt equipment that will support ranked ballots. However, county-by-county certification will still be required.

For statewide ranked ballot elections, all counties in the state must support ranked ballots, and election tabulation must be performed centrally.



The  ERWG requests that this proposal be approved as draft text to present to the California legislature for introduction as legislation, and that the ERWG, through its Co-Coordinators and other members, are authorized to represent the GPCA in dealings with legislators and their staff.

We will have opportunity to amend this draft after it has been introduced into the legislature. Accordingly, here are the open issues we know will require further work:

1.       Should NOC on ranked ballots be implied, persistent or non-persistent?

2.       For the presidential primary, when we get to using ranked voting, we require the elections department to provide us with the raw data that shows all rankings and transfers so that we know how to instruct our delegates to the national convention. If the national nominating convention is held in June of a presidential election year, it is possible that the GPCA would not receive official canvass information before the date of the convention.

Once our code is in the legislature, the ERWG Code sub-committee will provide status reports to the counties on any significant changes they are attempting to make. If a change is so substantial that the GPCA should make a decision, the sub-committee will work with the CC on county polling, or bring it to a General Assembly if the time frame fits.


There have been no unresolved concerns expressed in the ERWG code sub-committee or on the main ERWG list beyond the open issues cited above.


Approve this proposal in April 2006

Recruit friendly legislators to introduce this into the Assembly in 2007.

Once introduced into the legislature, work with legislators and staff to resolve issues. Amend draft as open issues are resolved.


Many hours of work for ERWG sub-committee members. Assistance from our State Liaison. Possibly costs for travel to Sacramento, and other communications expenses.