I chose FairVote for my internship because the U.S. electoral system is a topic I have been passionate about since high school. While researching presidential elections for a school debate topic, I was introduced to a range of issues such as gerrymandering and voter ID laws, which I previously had known little about. I was shocked to learn how the technical rules that shape elections can be used to so severely impact who is able to vote and therefore who can ultimately be elected. I also chose FairVote because I am excited about the organization’s efforts to introduce structural reform. Growing up I constantly heard jokes about the supremacy of money in American politics or that Congress gets nothing done. Although these criticisms were made in a jesting manner, for a while it seemed to me that the problems within the U.S. electoral system were inherent. They were simply part of the way things were. FairVote opened me up to the idea that it is possible to change the system overall, which would impact the work done across the board, not just one political issue.
Electoral reform is a topic I care a lot about because it greatly influences whether or not people have an outlet for expressing their ideas on personally meaningful issues. I have always felt really passionate about making sure people who don’t normally have a voice are heard and represented in our system; I even joined various committees on my university campus that were set up with this goal in mind. This topic attained even more importance in my mind last summer while I was working for the Legal Aid Society. The entrenched cycle of poverty I witnessed throughout my time working in family court strengthened my belief in the need for systemic and political change. I believe this type of change is only possible if a new demographic is given the opportunity to be elected to office.
There are many reasons I am excited about this internship! One is that everyday I am learning more about alternatives to the current electoral structure. I love using both data and logic to evaluate the merits and faults of each proposal. I am also really excited to be in an environment where everyone is so passionate about the work they are doing; seeing how much the staff genuinely cares about the issues they are working on is incredibly inspiring. Additionally, I am looking forward to seeing the policies for which FairVote advocates be implemented in the real world in upcoming years. Lastly, I am excited that the ideas I learn about at FairVote are ideas I can talk about in my Political Science classes when I return to my university, McGill, in the fall.
Through my experience with FairVote, I would like to continue expanding my scope of knowledge about electoral reforms. I also hope to contribute to research and publish an article while I am here, as well as learn about a topic I can continue to research when I return to McGill.
Nina Jaffe-Geffner is a student at McGill University and a 2015 Communications Intern at FairVote. Do you want to apply for a FairVote internship? Find more information here: http://www.fairvote.org/who-we-are/internships-and-employment/internships/