AB 1121 Asm. skinner is swing vote

Rob Dickinson is the Executive Vice President of Californians for Electoral Reform and has worked closely with Assembly Member Mike Davis on AB 1121.

Please call Asm. Skinner’s  office to support AB 1121

> Dear Judy,


> I appreciate your question regarding Assemblywoman

> Skinner’s response to Steven Hill’s message about AB

> 1121.

> It is accurate, in my opinion, to say that Assemblywoman

> Skinner is a swing vote for our bill in committee.  


> We need 9 votes in the Appropriations Committee to pass our

> bill out of committee, and we have 8 votes.  “There are two other members of the committee that are not yet supporting the bill, and they too could be considered swing votes”. Essentially,

> we are 1 vote short of the necessary 9 votes for passage,

> and if Assemblywoman Skinner votes in support of the bill,

> we pass out of committee.   That would have been true on

> Weds. of this last week, where her vote would have passed

> our bill out of committee, and is probably true for next

> Thursday when we will still need her vote.


> No votes have been officially recorded on the bill in

> Appropriations, but we still know how people were planning

> to vote.   We know both because the various offices tell

> us in advance how they plan to vote, but members also tell

> committee staff how they plan to vote. The members of the

> committee inform the committee staff in advance of how they

> plan to vote in order to give the Chair information

> necessary to decide how to proceed on each bill. For

> example, the committee has shorthands for many common votes,

> such as “A Roll Call” vote, which means all

> members – both Dems and Reeps – vote in support” and

> “B Roll Call” vote, which is a party-line split

> with all Dems supporting and all Reeps opposing.  So we

> knew who was with us and who was not.  


> The bottom line is that if Assemblywoman Skinner votes for

> the bill, it moves forward in the Assembly, and if she

> either abstains or votes no, then the bill never gets out of

> committee.  And so far she has not been willing to indicate

> a yes vote on AB 1121.



> Her lack of support is incredibly surprising to everyone

> involved with this legislation, as her district is so

> overwhelmingly in support of instant runoff voting —

> probably close to 70% in support (given that Berkeley and

> Oakland passed IRV with 69 percent and 72 percent of the

> vote respectively).  And that disconnect is even more

> surprising given how modest this bill is.   It is

> important to note that this is merely a pilot bill to allow

> only 10 general law cities or counties to have an option to

> use ranked voting.  The bill is completely optional and

> mandates nothing.  Any city or county that does so as part

> of this legislation would be required to provide a detailed

> report on the experience which would help inform future

> policy choices.  In other words, the bill was designed to

> re-assure any legislators that might have concerns. So, if

> Asm. Skinner does in fact have concerns, one would think

> that this legislation would offer an ideal way to get more

> information from a handful of jurisdictions using IRV to

> explore whether or not there is any merit to those

> concerns.



> It is also important to note that the legislation requires

> any jurisdictions that wish to use IRV as part of this pilot

> program to obtain approval of their voters.  So any

> jurisdiction that proceeds with IRV as part of this

> legislation will have the support of the majority of their

> voters, which is a very democratic model.



> Additionally, the bill is in the Appropriations

> Committee to consider its fiscal impact to the state.  The

> Appropriations analysis concludes that the bill incurs no

> cost to

> California.   That is the primary purpose for why the

> bill is in

> Appropriations — to consider its fiscal impact — since

> the policy

> committees have already considered whether or not they

> believe the

> policy to be sound and in the interest of the state.   It

> is important

> to remember that the Democrats on the policy committee —

> Assembly

> Elections and Redistricting Committee — voted unanimously

> in support

> of the bill in an earlier vote on April 21st.



> Given the modest nature of this legislation, it does make

> Asm.

> Skinner’s unwillingness to vote for it perplexing.

> And she is clearly

> out of step with her district on this issue.




> Regards,


> Rob Dickinson

2 thoughts on “AB 1121 Asm. skinner is swing vote”

  1. Instant runoff voting would allow us to vote who we want without having to compromise on at least getting our 2nd choice elected.  And think how many runoff elections would be avoided.  

    IRV should be an option for each jurisdiction to use if they want.

  2. Assemblywoman Skinner sent the message below. Rather thin on content regarding her thoughts on AB 1121, but says she’s open to persuasion.

    May 22, 2009

    Dear Friend,

    An email from Steven Hill of the New America Foundation is being circulated that misstates facts about me regarding AB 1121, a bill that is pending before the Assembly Appropriations Committee. I’m writing to correct the record, as communications based on false information cause me to distrust arguments presented by the same sources.

    Assembly Bill 1121, authored by Assemblymember Mike Davis, would establish a program to pilot Instant Runoff Voting in a number of non-charter cities. The email claims I am the “swing vote” in the Assembly Appropriations committee, where the bill now sits awaiting a hearing. To clear the Appropriations Committee the bill needs at least 9 of the 11 Democratic votes as all 5 Republican members of the committee oppose the bill.  The bill was held over last week rather than put up for a vote as at least 6 Democrats on the committee expressed concerns and have not yet committed to support AB 1121.

    The email also claims that I have been unwilling to meet with bill supporters. In fact, I have met with both the author and sponsor of this bill, have read the materials they provided, and members of my staff have met with and corresponded with numerous other bill supporters.

    Finally the email indicates that AB 1121 will be heard in Assembly Appropriations committee on May 21, 2009.  It is actually scheduled for a vote next week, Thursday, May 28.

    I do have concerns regarding the unintended consequences of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) including effects on voters who may not be well informed as to how the system works, as well as the potential ability of independent expenditure committees and others to manipulate such a system. I welcome you to send me your thoughts regarding the policy AB 1121 is proposing, so that I may consider those as I decide what position I will take on this legislation.

    Warm Regards,

    Nancy Skinner

    Assemblymember, 14th District

    Contact me at http://www.assembly.ca.gov/skinner or (510) 286-1400

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