Posted by Brittany Stromko on July 13, 2016
I am a rising 2L at Georgetown Law, originally from a small town in New Jersey. I graduated from American University in 2011 with a B.A. in Political Science and CLEG (Communications, Legal Studies, Economics, and Government). After graduation, I worked for a Member of Congress before joining the Peace Corps in 2013 as an English teacher trainer in rural Costa Rica. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I had the opportunity to hold summer English camps for students entering high school, conduct spelling bees, teach a girls empowerment workshop, co-teach English classes at local schools and to the community at night with native counterparts, and spearhead a project to standardize national English lesson plans. It was a rewarding two years, but I knew teaching was not for me longterm.
I was excited to return to DC for law school and re-immerse myself in the world of government, policy, and politics, only this time I was eager to work on the advocacy side. While I attended undergrad in DC, it was impossible not to be absorbed in politics and I saw the dialogue become more and more partisan. Compromise seemed to be a word of the past, in Washington. I decided to intern at No Labels, an organization that aims to start a national movement that will culminate in a Federal government that sees the presidential administration and both houses of Congress working together to achieve mutually agreed-upon goals that will solve our nation’s problems. I strongly believe in their mission to stop the growing partisan divides in government that lead to gridlock.
As a volunteer on congressional campaigns in New Jersey in 2012, I witnessed how our electoral system disenfranchises voters. I handed out many leaflets to people who realized they would not be able to vote because they missed the registration deadline. Same-day or online voter registration would have allowed those people to have their voices heard. I became passionate about engaging disenfranchised voters by breaking down institutional barriers – whether it be the influence of partisan gerrymandering, the impacts of non-competitive elections in local politics, or the hurdles of outdated voting processes.
I chose to spend my summer interning at FairVote because they work at the intersection of these two issues. Our winner-take-all election systems encourages candidates to move further down their party’s partisan spectrum. This results in many elected officials coming to Washington who represent the most partisan views of their party, instead of the ideals of many Americans, which often lie closer to the center of the political spectrum. When I learned that FairVote advocates for ranked choice voting in order to create a more representative democracy, I was excited and eager to join their efforts.
This summer I am also enjoying playing softball on the Mall and after two years of Costa Rican heat, I also enjoy spending time indoors anywhere that has air-conditioning.
Lily is the 2016 Legal Intern at FairVote. Learn more about FairVote's Democracy Fellowships and Internship opportunities on our Employment page.