Letter to the Editor and Writing Letters to City Council Event on May 12th from 5-6pm

Dear Fellow Champions of Fair Elections,

Are you ready to shake up the status quo and bring real change to Salem's electoral system? If so, mark your calendars because we've got an event coming your way!

Ranked Choice Voting has the power to transform our democracy by empowering voters, fostering diversity in candidates, and putting an end to divisive politics. And now, it's time to take action!

Join us for a Letter to the Editor and Writing Letters to City Council Event on May 12th from 5-6pm. This isn't just any virtual gathering – it's a virtual gathering for all supporters of RCV to come together and make our voices heard loud and clear!

RSVP HERE to secure your spot and receive the Google Invite link for this event.

Let's show the world that Salem is ready for Ranked Choice Voting – and that together, we can make it happen!

See you there!

Salem RCV


Summary of Salem RCV meeting with Greg Dennis
and Sierra Dearns Presenting April 13 5PM

Written by Liz Bradt

In attendance: Norene Gachinard  LWV, Diane Fawley SDCC, Nancy Anderson SDCC ,Lydia King Solidarity Rising Vice Chair SDCC, Liz Bradt Chiar SDCC LWV member RCV, Schuyler Ward Vice Chair SDCC, Betty ?, Councilor Ward 7 Andy Varela, Lucy Corchado, President Point Neighborhood Association, Judith Reilly President LWV, Claudia Lyons RCV LWV

We had prepared for a bilingual presentation but everyone present could understand English so we did not present in Spanish. Also nobody showed up to register to vote in spite of extensive advertising of the event on Salem Patch, Facebook and leafleting of 190 super voters , and posting of fliers in Ward 1 Precinct 2

Greg Dennis gave us an overview of RCV

Sierra Dearns, who is helping with our Salem RCV campaign shared some stats about Salem, and her plan for a LTE meet up online on April 28.

Councilor Ward 7 Andy Varela said that gears are moving to get an elections commission in city hall. He also said there is an increasing understanding in CIty Council  that a non- binding referendum  in November 2025 asking the citizens of Salem to vote Yes/No on RCV for Salem  would be useful to see where citizens of Salem stand on the issue. He needs advocates to email their City Councilors and At Large Councilors voting to get on the ballot.

In order to achieve an initiative petition in Salem to send a Home Rule petition on RCV to legislature ( which the state legislature prefers and tends to pass more often) 15% of voters would need to sign a petition about (4900 signatures) Even with the signatures our CIty Charter requires that more than ⅓ ( 33.3%) of the registered voters vote in the election. We have had voter turnouts in the 20% range. A huge GOTV push by candidates for office in 2025, SDCC and League of Women's Voters would be necessary. Far more than 33.3% would have to vote to get a majority of votes for RCV. 

Councilors that we should focus on to encourage them to support RCV are Cynthia Jerzylo, Patty Morsillo Ward 3,  Meg Stott Ward 6, John Harvey Ward 4,  and  At Large Ty Hapworth Conrad Prozniewski Here is the link to get their emails to the Salem City Council.

Previously:

A letter to the editor of the Salem News was published on January 29, 2024 informing readers that: "Salem City Council has RCV under consideration in the Government Services Committee (SGSC) headed by Councilor Andy Varela this year. The SGSC is creating a commission to study RCV in Salem. After study, our City Council can vote to put a question on the November ballot to see where Salem citizens stand on RCV. If the referendum passes, our Rep. Manny Cruz files a home rule petition at the Statehouse; only after the Statehouse approves our petition, can we use RCV in our local elections. Please visit www.salemrcv.org/FairVote or VoterChoiceMA to learn more about RCV. Salem residents email City Council at citycouncilors@salem.com to urge them to get a non-binding referendum on the ballot in November so every voter can weigh in on RCV."

Here is the link to the full letter to the Editor entitled" Letter: Ranked choice voting for Salem as published in the Salem News.

In addition the process to explore creating an election commission  which would oversee its own department and election administrator  in Salem took its first step at a City Council committee meeting January 29, 2024. It ended with the committee voting to meet again soon after having gathered more information on Massachusetts cities and towns that have made the switch away from the city clerk’s office to administer elections.  How this affects RCV for Salem is yet to be determined.  For more details about the meeting link to:  Salem civic advocates support review of election commission article in the Salem News.   

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On October 19, 2023, the City of Salem Board of Registrars of Voters met.  Their first agenda item was, "To Discuss Rank Choice Voting relative to the legal duties, responsibilities, and functions of the Board of Registrar of Voters by obtaining information and advice".  Also in the agenda was  to review the Results of Request for Proposal due to criteria and cost for new voting equipment.  The video link: Oct 19, 2023 Salem Board of Registrars of Voters meeting contains the entire 90 minute meeting.  

To summarize, some important questions concerning issues that might arise as a result of implementing RCV , i.e. recounts, liability and/or lawsuits, costs, delays in reporting election results and the type of voting equipment/software needed etc. were discussed with Lauren F. Goldberg, Managing Attorney, KP Law.

A motion was approved to formulate a committee to investigate RCV and it was agreed by the Board that the City Council Government Services committee might initiate such  a committee.  The Board recommends that  the committee be composed of a City Councillor, the Mayor, the City Solicitor, a member of the Board and City Clerk.

The new voting equipment that Salem will be purchasing is needed to replace the out-of-date Accuvote system regardless of implementing RCV.   Two companies, ESS and LHS, submitted proposals and LHS was awarded the bid.  Both systems have the capability to tabulate RCV elections. Ilene Simons, Salem City Clerk, felt that we would be using the new election equipment by September 2024.

The City of Salem Board of Registrars met with the Salem City Council Committee on Government Services co-posted with the Committee of the Whole. This meeting took place in person on Wednesday July 12, 2023, at 6:00 PM for the purpose of discussing a Home Rule Petition for a charter change relative to Rank Choice Voting.  After an educational and robust discussion, the committee voted to leave the matter in Committee and hold future discussions.

Dustin Luca, a staff writer at The Salem News, posted the following article: "Salem leaders exploring rank choice voting switch".  This is an excellent synopsis of the meeting detailing the view points both for and against RCV in Salem.   

Further discussions and public meetings will be noted here.  Please stay tuned.

At the April 27, 2023 Salem City Council meeting it was unanimously agreed that the Government Services Subcommittee  will meet with the Committee of the Whole City Council to discuss submitting a Home Rule Petition to the legislature to get permission to change the city charter relative to Ranked Choice Voting in Salem. 

An internal meeting with the City Solicitor to review legal issues occurred on May 18th and the Committee meeting  may be scheduled for July.

Salem RCV is endorsed by the following local civic organizations: