Growing up in local politics, my parents taught me how important civic engagement is to giving back, finding your voice, and making your community a better place. Some of my earliest memories in politics are of baking muffins for Democratic Town Committee Meetings with my Mom or driving around town to put up political signs with my Dad. Through grassroots politics, I got to know neighbors and volunteers from all over town, and their civic service and sense of community was so inspiring to me. I learned that people who serve on local boards, volunteer for local political campaigns, and give their voices to important political discussions are really the ones who shape the future of the community.
I think it was really these values of public service and political empowerment that ultimately led me to work on electoral reform at FairVote. I want to work on issues that protect and expand the opportunities for political engagement in young people, women, people of color, and so many other groups that don’t traditionally find an easy path into the political arena. FairVote shares my values of electoral access and opportunity. They work for fairer elections that will mean better representation and better political opportunities for local communities, and hopefully more paths for women and people of color into politics. I really believe in political empowerment as a mechanism of personal empowerment and an engine of social change, so I’m definitely excited to work on reforms that could bring that to more people.
One thing I really want to learn from FairVote is the skills and strategies it takes to actually enact social reforms, and to make these ideas a reality. FairVote has a whole slew of really incredible electoral reforms that could do great things for states and localities across the country, but as with most great social reforms, the path to implementation is rarely smooth. I’m really interested in learning how a nonprofit with all these great, practical ideas translates them into actual change. What steps are the best practices of moving a good idea into a good proposal, then a good policy? I’m particularly interested in this process because what I really want to do after Fair Vote is get a law degree, and then hopefully work as a legal advocate for other social issues, like women’s issues or LGBT issues. These are other areas where a lot of great ideas exist, but groups are struggling to translate them into actual law. I think there’s a lot I can learn as a future advocate/attorney from supporting FairVote as they navigate this process.
Working at FairVote means a chance to really impact electoral reform. Electoral reform is important to me because the health and strength of our democracy is important to me. Our modern democracy and our political arena badly needs more voices, more actors, and more perspectives. Unfortunately, our current way of voting does not do a very good job at allowing longshot candidates or nontraditional candidates a chance at winning. If we can make the actual electoral process of voting more fair, voters will have more choices on election day, more freedom to vote their conscience, and more incentives for diverse candidates to run. I’m excited to be part of real change during my time at FairVote.
Molly Rockett is a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut and a 2015 Democracy Fellow at FairVote. Do you want to apply for a FairVote Fellowship? Find more information here: http://www.fairvote.org/who-we-are/internships-and-employment/fellowships/