Electoral reform and FairVote had a good year in 2017, but 2018 promises to be the best year yet. You can track the latest on our new, regularly updated Voices and Choices blog and social media channels.
Already there’s lots of news to report from the new year. We recognize that this will be an extremely important cycle in our effort to reform our election process, and we’re seeing avenues all over the country where we’ll be able to have a hand in strengthening our democracy for all Americans. We’ll focus in particular on work by FairVote and our allies on ranked choice voting (RCV) and gerrymandering, but are thrilled to see state progress for other FairVote-backed reforms like the National Popular Vote plan for president and voter registration changes designed to give us full and accurate voter rolls.
Maine activists submit avalanche of signatures to spark ‘People’s Veto’ and statewide elections with RCV: Grounded in heroic work by volunteers, Maine’s Committee for Ranked Choice Voting reports that town clerks have already certified more than 72,000 signatures from those turned in by the Committee to trigger a “people’s veto” of legislation that would have delayed implementation of ranked choice voting. The Secretary of State has until March 5 to certify the signatures for the referendum to be officially placed on the ballot, but it’s nearly certain that June 12 will be an historic day for electoral reform: Maine voters will vote with RCV as they select primary nominees, including in crowded statewide primaries for governor, and on RCV on whether to keep it in place for congressional and state primaries and for November general elections for U.S. Senate and U.S. House, starting this year. See last weekend’s wonderful editorial in Maine’s largest paper framing the issue. Moving forward, we’re cheering on referendum backers and being a resource to Mainers working to ensure the June RCV election is a success.
Santa Fe voters preparing for the city’s first RCV election With the legal maneuvering finally out of the way, Santa Fe voters are becoming more informed about the city’s first ranked choice voting elections on March 6th that includes a wide-open election for mayor. The city’s website, votedifferentsantafe.com contains practice ballots, voting locations, important dates and answers to frequently asked questions that voters will need to know. Maria Perez, FairVote New Mexico director has been doing terrific work, holding training sessions for voters and civic leaders, making media appearances (including a segment on the PBS program, “New Mexico in Focus”) and working with local businesses to hold “ranking” events which are a fun way to learn how easy it is to use a RCV ballot.
Santa Clara, CA will vote on switching to ranked choice voting and fair representation this June Last week the Santa Clara City Council voted unanimously to put a measure on the June ballot that would amend the city’s charter to adopt ranked choice voting for mayor and as a fair representation system in multi-winner elections for city council. If passed, the city would implement RCV for the 2020 election. Jennifer Pae, Pedro Hernandez and Margaret Okuzumi of FairVote California have been working with local allies to build support and understanding of the proposal.
Oscar season lights a bright spotlight on ranked choice voting Once again the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is using ranked choice voting to determine all the nominees and the final vote for Best Picture. With everyone tuned into the Oscars, this is a terrific opportunity to show the country how ranked choice voting works. As we have for the past couple of years, FairVote is encouraging everyone to use our RankIt app to rank their vote for their favorite Oscar contenders. Check out an “explainer” piece I wrote on our blog, “Voice and Choices,” How ranked choice voting leads to fair representation in Oscar nominations. Other blogs are online with more info and chances to vote on this year's Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, with more on the way. Rank the Oscars and tell your friends!
FairVote on the road in Illinois, Louisiana, Rhode Island and more. On Feb 2-4 at Tulane University in New Orleans, activists, former government officials, policy specialists and progressive leaders got together to talk about making elections more fair for all Americans. FairVote speakers were a regular presence, including Grace Ramsey and me joining Sightline Institute’s Kristin Eberhard, Anita Earls from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Jessie Fields from Open Primaries and Didi Kuo, research & program manager, Stanford University Center on Democracy, in making the case for changing winner-take-all elections to forms of fair representation. FVCA’s Jennifer Pae discussed RCV on the “There’s Got to Be a Better Way to Vote” panel. You can see some of the panels here. I also addressed audiences last week in Chicago, Cambridge (MA) and Providence (RI), and our senior fellow David Daley is making a bigger splash than ever in both private and public sessions on how best to reform gerrymandering.
State legislation has been introduced in states in every corner of the country. Just this week important bills that would allow cities to use RCV passed out of committees with bipartisan support in Utah and Virginia. We’re thrilled to work with a growing network of state groups doing remarkable work, including in Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Nevada. - all represented at our reformers summit last November. Nationally, The Fair Representation Act in Congress continues to draw support as a beacon of hope for those who want a truly representative and accountable U.S. House of Representatives effectively free of gerrymandering. We issue regular reports and analysis that showcase this reform.
This Valentine’s Day, show some love for RCV With 20 pieces of ranked choice voting legislation under consideration in 14 states, FairVote’s Outreach team is engaged in a #LoveRCV campaign aimed at urging citizens to contact their state representatives and senators on Valentine’s Day to support ranked choice voting. Letters, phone calls and emails can all make a difference to give voters a greater voice, more choices and more fair representation in government. Click here for more info and to RSVP.
Voices and Choices now has guest voices and a new feature One of our goals this year is to transform our blog into a place where important voting reform conversations take place. To that end, we have begun posting submissions from folks outside of FairVote to hear what they have to say about democracy, elections and electoral reform in their areas. Contributions from Sightline Institute’s Kristin Eberhard, Election Reformers Network founder Kevin Johnson, and the League of Women Voters of Maine have recently been posted. We’re looking to engage a wide variety of people across the spectrum, so if you’d like to join in, get in touch with Rich Robinson from our comms team.
Regular readers of our blog have no doubt noticed a new feature from our Senior Fellow and Communications Director David Daley, called “Gerrymeanderings” that couldn’t be more timely, given the string of major legal rulings and state action showing that partisan gerrymandering finally may have reached its limit and be pushed back for fairer elections.
Along with his work at FairVote, David is an author and an expert on gerrymandering and redistricting; his remarkable exhaustive piece on partisan gerrymandering was just published at Salon to great effect. He’s a sought-after guest on TV news programs, including a recent appearance on CNN’s “Smerconish” and in case you missed it, Comedy Central’s “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper.” And in writings outside of FairVote, don’t miss Lee Drutman’s important new piece on proportional voting in National Affairs.
We hope everyone has a terrific February, and that a pleasant spring arrives soon! As always, thank you for your interest and support of our work.