Proposal – GPCA Election Code


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



Each political party is required to have their own sections of the elections code that addresses two subjects:
1) presidential 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 Ballot Voting (RBV) – RBV is a generic term to indicate those voting methods such as IRV and proportional representation. We want to specify the use of RBV in GPCA primaries and county council elections. However, voting equipment capable of handling ranked ballots on a statewide basis is many years away. Individual counties will have this capability before it is available statewide. To accommodate this, we have included clauses that describe our elections both before and after RBV equipment is available. Prior to availability, our primaries will have to use the current single-choice ballot. County council elections are discussed below.

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-choice elections (IRV and PR).

We once had the use of NOTA in our primaries but were sued by the Secretary of State and had to cease. In our 1992 appeal (GPCA v. Jones), the court upheld the SoS citing issues of ambiguity and minority rule that could result from using NOTA. We’re going to try it again, this time defining NOTA and NOC in a manner that addresses the court’s concerns. Please realize that 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.      Because we allow NOC on ranked-choice ballots, we have to accept the possibility of a plurality winner. Because voters do not have to rank all choices, ballots may become exhausted. This may prevent any candidate from receiving enough transferred votes to cross the threshold.

B.     NOTA/NOC must receive a majority to win the primary. The court will not allow NOTA/NOC to win on plurality because that means that a majority of voters wanted to see a candidate in the general election.

C.     For ranked-choice ballots, NOC will be 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?

D.     Ranked ballot voting in primaries will be defined as Alternative Voting (per IDEA handbook) rather than IRV since we reference the IDEA handbook in the code.

3.      Presidential Primary – We define the purpose of this primary as being to provide our delegates to the national convention with direction on how to vote. We do not select a presidential candidate in our primary. We go to the national convention with all the other states and make that decision collectively. So, our primary is just to figure out how our delegates should vote. When we get ranked ballot equipment, we are asking the SoS to provide us with the raw data from all counties so that we can determine how our delegates should vote in all rounds at the convention.

4.      Direct Primaries – All other primaries for GPCA candidates will also use NOTA/NOC and ranked ballots when available.

5.      National Affiliation – Currently our code specifically states GPUS as the national party with which we affiliate. What if GPUS goes away? 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.

6.      County Councils – Councils are elected in multi-seat elections, as opposed to primaries which are single-seat elections. After we have ranked-choice equipment we’re specifying STV proportional representation. Prior to this, we’re specifying the use of a Limited Voting (LV) method. Under LV, voters are limited to voting for a number of candidates that is less than the number of open seats. For a 7-member council, you would be limited to (for example) 3 votes. This prevents the winner-take-all effect of allowing a majority voting block from selecting all the seats, thus allowing a minority block to elect some seats. Limited Voting can be implemented with existing software, giving us a measure of proportional representation without requiring elaborate changes to ballot-counting software.

NOC is not advantageous in a multi-seat election. If it was applied to the current method, it could be used by a majority block to prevent any minority block candidates from getting elected. It is superfluous under a Limited Voting system. Using NOC in multi-seat proportional representation is very tricky, especially given the court’s objections to it. We’re not advocating it at this time, but will continue the discussion.



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.

Note that 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 persistent or non-persistent?

2.      In the text to be placed on the ballot and voter guides, do we need to explain why voters should rank their choices? e.g. “If your first choice candidate is eliminated, your vote transfers to your second choice. Your vote continues to transfers down your ranked preferences until a candidate wins, or until your “No Other Choice” ranking is reached.”

3.      For the presidential primary, when we get to using ranked ballots, 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.

4.      In using Limited Voting in county council elections, we need to determine the level of limiting that we want to specify.

5.      In using STV in county council elections, is fractional transfers of exess votes the best method?

6.      Should we/do we need to reference the IDEA Handbook when describing the elections systems that we’re asking for?



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 Dec. 05.

Recruit friendly legislators to introduce this into the Assembly in Dec. 05 and Jan. 06.

Once introduced into the legislature, work with legislators and staff to resolve issues. Amend draft as open issues are resolved. Jan – Apr (?) 06.



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