According to the 2010 Census, the City’s Population is approximately 116,468, of which approximately 22,589 (19.4%) are Hispanic or Latino and 43,889 (37.7%) are Asian-American. According to the latest Citizen Voting Age Population (“CVAP”) 2011-2015 data available from the American Community Survey, the City of Santa Clara has a CVAP of approximately 69,886, of which, approximately 10,678 (15.4%) are Hispanic or Latino and 21,343 (30.7%) are Asian-American. This is important to reference because the City’s Population and Electorate are not currently reflected in the City Council.
A Lawsuit was brought against the City of Santa Clara challenging the At-Large Electoral system used to Elect its City Council Members. The Lawsuit alleged that Santa Clara’s Election system Violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001. In April 2017, the City Council directed the Creation of a Charter Review Committee to Review the City’s Election Method and to make a Recommendation for Electing Members to the City Council.
Over time, the Committee considered At-Large Elections, various District plans, and determined that Santa Clara was too Diverse and Integrated for Single-Member District Elections.
The Charter Review Committee recommended a Two District Plan which would use (RCV) for Three City Council Seats to be Elected in each District. The Fairness of RCV relies on the concept of a Threshold of Exclusion. Four (4) Bay Area Cities use RCV (San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro) and for these Single Member RCV Elections, the Threshold of Exclusion is 50%+1. With RCV under Multi-Member Elections, otherwise known as Single Transferable Vote, that Threshold declines in Proportion to the Number of Seats available. Santa Clara has Six Council Members, under the Proposed Plan, when Three Seats are up for an Election, the Threshold to Elect One seat would be 25%+1.
On July 18th, 2017, the City Council accepted the Charter Review Committee's Plan, and instructed the City Attorney to Draft appropriate Language for further Review. This will include a Proposed Ballot Measure for June 2018.
Santa Clara, CA will Vote on switching to Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) and Fair Representation this June.
The Santa Clara City Council voted unanimously to put a Measure on the June Ballot that would Amend the City’s Charter to adopt RCV for Mayor and as a Fair Representation System in Multi-Winner Elections for City council.
If passed, the City would implement RCV for the 2020 Election.
Jennifer Pae, Pedro Hernandez, and Margaret Okuzumi of FairVote California have been working with Local allies to Build Support and understanding of the Proposal. FairVote California provided Research and Analysis to the Community and to the Charter Review Committee about the Effectiveness of various Election Methods.
NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker