Voices & Choices

Meet The Team: Joel Nair

Meet The Team: Joel Nair

My internship at FairVote is happening during my senior year at the University of Maryland, College Park, where I’m working to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with a minor in Actuarial Mathematics. Here, I’ve had the opportunity to merge my passion for research, data interpretation, and politics towards a reform cause that I believe is crucial for the betterment of our electoral process.

I’m interested in economics and math as an academic discipline because I want to be able to quantify the trends, behaviors, and social interactions, while producing valuable insights to improve our society’s overall efficiency. I was drawn into political data and research early in my high school years, while riding in my dad’s car as he tuned into NPR every morning on the way to work. It was there when I first learned about what would be the pinnacle of Barack Obama’s presidency, the Affordable Care Act, which inspired me to delve deeply into the issues of healthcare in the United States in both my studies and independent research.

The ACA helped to close the lapse in coverage by providing to adults between the ages of 18-64, earning incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line, with either Medicaid coverage or premium tax credits to help subsidize private healthcare. As a result, millions of previously uninsured Americans managed to afford healthcare.

During the 2016 election, I had a profound concern for the Republican stance to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. On Election Night, as I watched news outlets begin to call the new majority of Congress and successor to President Obama, I began to  wonder how a healthcare plan that helped to provide millions of low-income Americans with health insurance was so deeply opposed that the country elected a party willing to destroy it. From there, my eyes were opened to how unrepresentative our elected officials truly are, the detrimental effects of gerrymandering, and the unnecessary intricacies embedded in our electoral system that complicate the process of voting.

As an immigrant and minority in this country, I am painfully aware of how under-represented my community is in our country. I’ve heard us being referred to the people our home countries didn’t want; that we would not contribute to the American Dream. The stance this administration has chosen on immigration and foreigners, and the threat of DACA’s repeal affecting the 690,000 ‘dreamers’ around the country, has inspired me to be a part of FairVote’s movement for change. With our congressional leadership being disproportionately white and male when compared to the U.S. population, the voice of immigrants, minorities and women are being silenced by the current statutes being used to elect our representatives.

I decided to join FairVote because I believe in the simplicity of ranked choice voting and multi-winner congressional districts. By choosing to adopt these reforms, we are advocating for fairer elections and a more diverse congressional makeup, truly representative of the many different competing interests within our nation. I hope by applying my skills in data and analysis to FairVote, I can provide valuable research towards their advocacy for more inclusive and representative leadership.

 

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