By Richard Ram
Our third endorsement meeting of the 2020 election cycle is on Sunday, Sept. 29. If you're a member in good standing, or if you just want to see what our club is all about, join us as we determine how our club will weigh in with endorsements in several key races.
We want the endorsement seal of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action to remain the gold standard by which Democratic candidates and incumbents in San Diego and Southern California are considered on issues affecting our climate, health, development and transportation, green jobs, animals, open space, public lands, coastal ecology, and so much more.
Eligible voting members may fill out their ballots, vote, and leave at any time, but we strongly encourage all our members to stay, speak with, and hear from the candidates. We'll have forums for each race with multiple Democratic candidates, and we'll provide ample time for questions and discussion among members as we consider pertinent environmental issues. There is no better opportunity for you to ask questions and consider answers.
Club endorsement requires 60 percent or better among voting members. Carrying our endorsement means candidates may use our club logo and name on their website and related campaign materials.
As a result of bylaws changes voted on at our June club meeting, our endorsement process includes paper ballots formatted for ranked-choice voting, which will maximize member participation and help us arrive more quickly at consensus.
When voting, be sure to check off only one selection in each column. In addition to selecting a candidate, you will also have the option of choosing a No Endorsement option, in which the club may take a formal position of not endorsing any one particular candidate.
Any ballot with multiple markings, unclear voter intent, or "writing in" of other candidates may be counted as invalid.
If, after counting ballots in sequence of members' ranked choices, no selection receives 60 percent or greater of member support, the default of No Position will prevail, meaning the club will not take a position, but reserves the right to revisit the race later in the year.
Frequently Asked Questions
May I Bring a Guest Who is Not a Club Member?
Yes. Guests are welcome to attend, but must sign in with us at the meeting. Guests and new members who have just joined are not permitted to participate in the discussion, candidate questions, or in casting ballots.
Who May Cast Endorsement Votes?
Members in good standing may cast votes and participate in candidate questions or discussion. A "member in good standing" is defined by our club bylaws as having paid dues 34 days prior to the endorsement meeting, or have attended at least one previously scheduled club meeting. New members who joined at and attended our July 17th club meeting are eligible to vote at our Aug. 18 endorsement meeting.
Any member whose membership has lapsed within the last 45 days will be eligible to vote upon payment of their dues in advance of the Aug. 18 endorsement meeting, or at the start of the meeting. If you are unsure about your membership renewal status, please e-mail us immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I Can't Attend the Endorsement Meeting. Can I Still Vote, or Have Someone Vote for Me?
No. This is referred to as proxy voting. Proxy voting and absentee voting are not permitted by our club. Ballots are only handed to members who have checked in at our endorsement meeting.
How Can I Find Out More About Candidates' Positions on Environmental Issues?
All participating candidates must complete a candidate questionnaire, which offer specific answers to environmental questions. Questionnaires are available for browsing at our check-in table. Candidate questionnaires are forbidden from leaving the room, and you may not photograph them.
Can I Record Any Part of the Meeting?
No. Video or audio taping of our endorsement proceedings, discussion, or candidate forums is forbidden. Any person found to be recording during the meeting will be asked to show that the recording has been deleted or erased, and may be asked to leave. Still photos are permitted of the meeting, but you may not photograph candidate questionnaires. Any person caught doing so will be asked to show that the photos in question have been deleted, and may be asked to leave.
Will There Be Refreshments?
Yes. The club will provide coffee, water, juice, bagels, fruit, and other related snacks. Please help keep the union hall clean, and re-use plates and utensils as you are able. You may also bring in outside food. No alcoholic beverages are permitted.
What Can We Expect On Ballots?
Paper ballots for races in which we have multiple Democratic candidates will be printed in a Ranked Choice Voting format. You may select your first, second, and third choices in order of preference. At any stage of your ranked choices you may select "No Endorsement" if you do not feel that any candidate or remaining candidates should earn the club's endorsement as the environmental choice in that race. Ballots will be distributed to each eligible club member, and may be completed and dropped into our ballot boxes at any time.
How Will Ballots Be Counted?
After the closure of voting in any given contest, ballot boxes will be taken for counting with club-designated vote counters. We allow one observer from each campaign to view the vote counting process. A candidate (or "No Endorsement" position) must receive 60 percent or more of first choice votes on ballots to win the endorsement of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action outright. Keep in mind that as a Democratic club our bylaws require a threshold of 60 percent of member votes for endorsement, as opposed to 50 percent plus one (+1) in a general election.
Any ballots that are illegible, marked in an invalid manner, or where voter intent on given ballot choices cannot be determined will be designated as "soiled," and will still count toward the overall number of ballots cast for meeting thresholds.
What About Members' Second and Third Ranked Choices?
If no one candidate wins 60 percent or more on the count of first choice votes, but at least one candidate receives a threshold of at least 50 percent in a two-candidate race or 40 percent in a race of three or more candidates, ballots cast with first choice for the candidate receiving the fewest votes will be re-tabulated for those members' second choice.
If this does not result in a candidate (or "No Endorsement" selection) earning 60 percent or more of members' consensus for endorsement, this process may repeat with ballots cast for the next-lowest vote recipient being re-tabulated for their second choice. If, after tabulating all ballots in order of ranked choices, no candidate (or "No Endorsement" selection) has reached a threshold of 60 percent or more of member votes, the default result will be of the club having "No Position." Members may elect to notice the same race for consideration at a later date in the campaign cycle.
If the "No Endorsement" selection attains 60 percent of the member vote at any point in the tabulation, the club will take an official stance of not endorsing any candidate in the race.
What Does It Mean to Rate Candidates As "Qualified?"
If, after counting ranked choice ballots, we have not arrived at any consensus for a formal endorsement or a position that demonstrates the will of 60 percent or more of our voting members, we may, at the motion of the membership, proceed to rate one or more candidates in a contested race as "qualified."
Qualified ratings are not endorsements. Qualified candidates are, however, recognized as being fully supportive of principles laid forth in the environmental planks of the California Democratic Party platform (as measured by responding affirmatively and unequivocally to all related questions on the club’s candidate questionnaire), and enjoying a significant measure of support from our club's membership.
Candidates rated as qualified may not use our club logo or name to imply endorsement or preference over other candidates that are similarly rated. Club members must be present to participate in discussion and voting to rate candidates as qualified.
For an illustration of how Ranked Choice Voting works in a general election, have a look at this short YouTube clip from FairVote.
Richard Ram serves as communications chair on the San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action executive board.
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