E-Newsletter July 22, 2002
Greetings! This update is to alert you to exciting developments in our work for fair elections and explain plans for future communication. As an organization devoted to increasing public understanding of American politics and how to reform its rules to provide more competition, better choices and fairer representation, we believe that we have entered a remarkable period -- remarkable for new opportunities to expose how electoral rules inhibit choice, competition, political discourse and representation and for new energy to pursue reform.
The Center is a non-profit based outside of Washington D.C. headed by former Congressman and 1980 presidential candidate John B. Anderson. It is a year of anniversaries for us. We are celebrating our 10-year anniversary this summer, while last week John hosted a gathering for his 80th birthday attended by such luminaries of the independent politics movement as Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords, former Congressman and current Minnesota Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tim Penny, consumer advocate and 2000 presidential candidate Ralph Nader and top aides to former Connecticut governor Lowell Weicker.
News of how instant runoff voting is exploding onto the reform landscape .
Instant runoff voting (IRV) is a ranked-choice system designed to accommodate more than two choices in an election for a single winner (like president, governor, mayor and legislators elected in single-member districts). It allows voters to vote their conscience without calculations of "wasted votes" and "spoilers" and ensures that the winner has true majority support among constituents.
This year San Francisco voted to implement "IRV" for its major elections, 53 of 56 town meetings in Vermont voted to endorse it for statewide elections, the Utah Republican Party used IRV to nominate congressional candidates at its state convention, major universities adopted IRV for student elections (young people are often supportive of IRV) and leading newspapers around the nation endorsed it -- most recently the Minneapolis Star Tribune
Next up for IRV: Alaskans on August 27 will vote to implement IRV for federal elections (including president in 2004) and most state elections. Keep tuned to our website for news on Alaska and on data that reveals just how traditional two-runoffs in the United States waste taxpayer money, exacerbate campaign finance abuses and depress turnout.
Information on Steven Hill's new book "Fixing Elections: The Failure of America's Winner Take All Politics"
Our west coast director, Steven Hill has produced a book that has the power and depth to be the "Silent Spring" of the electoral reform movement. Donors of $100 to our Center (see www.fairvote.org/donate.htm for on-line and postal opportunities) will receive a signed copy of Steven's book, and of course one can find it at bookstores everywhere. Catch Steven on Monday, July 22 on the Fox News Channel at 5:40 pm ET on the John Gibson show and on C-SPAN's "Booktalk" in the coming weeks (C-SPAN covered his book tour on July 18).
The latest full representation voting methods
Full representation (meaning "proportional" systems in which like-minded voters earn a share of seats equal to their share of votes) frequently speak to voters' frustration with politics and are a powerful means to fulfill the promise of the Voting Rights Act. This spring, for example, Amarillo, Texas used cumulative voting for a second time for its school board elections, with results that provided both dramatically fairer representation and broad community support, while the League of Women Voters of Washington endorsed full representation for elections in its state.
A state-by-state review of the current round of redistricting
The redrawing of legislative districts in the wake of the 2000 census has had the overall impact of further limiting voter choice - indeed more than 60 U.S. House incumbents will have no major party opposition and fewer than one in 10 U.S. House races are considered competitive. The Center's comprehensive website on redistricting details what has happened and what we can do to improve it.
In August, we will issue predictions in the 2002 congressional races based on the partisan tilt in districts, and be equipped to make predictions in the great majority of November 2004 elections immediately after this year's elections. We also will be helping to convene political reform leaders to discuss how to pursue fairer redistricting in the future.
We will send out short updates about once a month that will highlight one or two news development about voting system reform and a new finding from our reports on politics. We hope that you will appreciate these updates, but if you would like to be off the distribution list, let us know by replying with the word "remove" in the subject or body of your message. (If you would like to subscribe to moderated lists with more frequent updates, indicate so in a reply to this email or access the lists at www.groups.yahoo.com/group/instantrunoff for instant runoff voting and www.groups.yahoo.com/group/Voice4All for full representation.)
Finally, it is indeed our 10-year anniversary, and we're trying to increase our membership by 20% and encourage supporters to give us gifts of at least $100. We rely on contributions to finance our five field sites and nine staff members around the country (D.C, San Francisco, Chicago, Vermont and San Antonio) and all that they do to promote reform and better understanding of elections. Please send your contribution to the Center at 6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 610, Takoma Park MD 20910 or donate online at www.fairvote.org/donate.htm .
Enjoy your summer, and remember to catch Steven Hill on Fox and C-SPAN!