Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oakland League of Women Voters opposes more voter ed on instant runoff voting

And LWV disgraces itself. Two Oakland City Council members want to allocate funds to do voter outreach for the first instant runoff voting election. But the Oakland League of Women Voters opposes it! You would think that a so called voter advocacy group would approve of more voter education.

CityWise: Oakland proposal would divert funding for voter education
By Kelly Rayburn Oakland Tribune 03/11/2010 0

The city of Oakland, California is required by Measure O, the 2006 ballot measure to implement instant-runoff voting, to conduct its own outreach campaign. Two Oakland City Council members suggest that the cash strapped city use use the $225,000 in in the public campaign financing pot to pay for IRV voter outreach. The more the better! Consider that the City of San Francisco spent as much as $1.87 per registered voter in the first year, and conducted approx. 700 public presentations.

But the Oakland League of Women Voters,
who promoted instant runoff voting -don't want the city doing voter outreach:
"In this time of very tight budgets, we question whether Oakland should be spending extra money on a separate voter education effort," the letter to the commission said. "If the City Council decides to spend the extra money, please advise them to make sure that any city-funded voter education is well-coordinated with that done by the Registrar of Voters."

So Oakland LWV wants the city of Oakland to leave the voter education to LWV (who gets donations for voter ed) and other volunteer groups. There's a conflict of interest here - LWV is a non profit corporation that accepts donations to do voter education. The LWV is not an elected body and is not accountable to the public as is the City of Oakland.

Maybe the LWV is more interested in its own bottom line than anything. Because one of their two functions is voter education and they actively solicit donations for that end. But they oppose voter education if the city is doing it. Hmmmm.......

From the LWV page on voter education:

"The League of Women Voters Education Fund conducts voter service and citizen education activities...."
Donations to the Education Fund, a 501(c)(3)corporation, are fully tax-deductible where allowed by law

Instant runoff voting represents a drastic change in how votes are cast, counted and valued. Oakland is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country and outreach will be far more of a challenge than it would in a less diverse area. It will cost Oakland a significant amount of funds that it already doesn't have in order to implement instant runoff voting. It will create a demand on poll workers and voters and especially impact the more vulnerable voting populations.

The Oakland League of Women Voters has taken a reprehensible stand in this case that discredits them as a voter advocacy group.

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