Berkeley's decision Tuesday night to use Instant Runoff Voting for the 2010 elections marks a clean sweep for IRV in the East Bay this year. On Tuesday night, by an 8-1 vote of its city council, Berkeley became the third city in Alameda County since the beginning of the New Year to officially adopt Instant Runoff Voting. Last month, both the Oakland and San Leandro city councils approved using IRV for local elections starting this year.
The decision by the Berkeley City Council means that the three Alameda County cities will all begin using Instant Runoff Voting for the first time this November. That’s an exciting prospect and it also means that a major voter education and outreach program is getting under way to introduce voters and community members to the new method of voting. In conjunction with the three cities, Alameda County Registrar of Voters Dave Macdonald is planning an extensive outreach program that will include a mailing to each registered voter, public events and presentations in multiple languages, and a flash animation demonstration of IRV on the Registrar’s website. Community groups such as Oakland Rising and the League of Women Voters are also in the mix, reaching out to their own constituencies and under-represented communities as well.
Part of the Registrar’s plan is to have poll workers at each polling place who are familiar with Instant Runoff Voting and who can provide on-the-spot assistance to voters. It may seem like a long ways off but it’s never too early to start planning—the Registrar is planning on recruiting a lot of poll workers and says that high school students—who actually have the stamina to put in the long day that is required—make excellent poll workers. And they even get paid for it.
If you know teachers or school administrators, let them know of a great opportunity for their students to get hands-on learning experience with the democratic process. The kids will dig the idea of a paycheck. Contact the Alameda County Registrar of Voters at 510.272.6971 to get involved.