Tustin White Paper

REFORMING THE TUSTIN CITY COUNCIL’S ELECTORAL RULES

El Camino Real in Tustin

Tustin’s elections are at a crossroads: threats from CVRA suits might force lackluster change and the system is not as representative as it could be. The Rank and Add system yields we propose for Tustin’s elections results that satisfy both current laws and fair representation through elegant simplicity.

Executive Summary

In this report, Voters Choose proposes a bold and pragmatic solution to confront the impending threat of mandated, costly changes to Tustin’s electoral system. The proposal is cost-effective and satisfies the framework of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) on the people’s terms, not a court’s. In the past decade, cities across Southern California like Tustin, including Buena Park, Costa Mesa, and Garden Grove, have already succumbed to abandon at- large elections, and adopt ineffective district models. Even in localities that comply with demand letters from these outsiders, the city or school district must reimburse an author up to $30,000 for research on racial polarization in electoral patterns. The Tustin Unified School District fell victim to these unnecessary expenses in 2016 and now operates under a district-based system that ultimately is worse for Tustin’s residents. Thus, the law has forced cities into lackluster compromises at the expense of their financial health and their residents.

The Rank and Add system yields results that satisfy both current laws and fair representation through elegant simplicity.

But Tustin can do things in a different and better way that represents its citizens. Voters Choose has an electoral reform that optimizes representation for Tustin geographically, where representatives are accountable to an area; ideologically, where representatives respond to their constituents’ interests; and descriptively, where representatives themselves represent the demographics of the community. Rank and Add Voting allows individual voters to rank a set of candidates (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.), at which point each ranking gets a point value (1st=1 point, 2nd=1⁄2 point, 3rd=1⁄3 point, etc.) and the sums determine the winner. All of this can be achieved in an easy, affordable way; no other system improves the quality of elections and ensures the city council can maintain the public’s confidence for years to come. In short, it balances key priorities of a government, which includes representing the voices of minorities, but also giving moderates the chance to win broad, popular majorities. The Rank and Add system proposed here yields results that satisfy both current laws and fair representation of voters’ nuanced preferences through elegant simplicity.