FairVote Reforms Advancing Across USA: March 17 Newsletter
A lot is happening as FairVote advances public understanding of and supports advocacy for our 2020 reform goals. Here are a few highlights:
California City of 180,000 Adopts a Fair Representation Voting System
Fair representation expands representation to more voters and results in far more voters in meaningful elections. As explained in our news release, the Santa Clarita (CA) city council last week agreed to settle a lawsuit brought under the California Voting Rights Act by granting its voters cumulative voting rights. Once implemented in 2016, Santa Clarita will be the largest city council elected by a fair representation voting method. While we prefer the multimember version of ranked choice voting (see our amicus brief filed in January in another California VRA case), cumulative voting creates new opportunities for more voters to elect preferred candidates.
National Popular Vote Efforts Make Headway in Several States
We support reform of the Electoral College in order to guarantee election of the candidate who wins the most popular votes in all 50 states and make every voter relevant across the nation. This spring, legislation to enact the National Popular Vote plan (NPV) have moved in several states:
- Oklahoma: The NPV bill passed the state senate in February and is now in the house
- Maine: Hearing on the NPV bill held by state senate
- Connecticut: NPV bill passed the Government Administration and Elections Committee
- New York: Both the Assembly and Senate are on third readings of the bill
- Minnesota: Hearing on the bill went well, with legislation in both the House and Senate
Ranked Choice Voting Bills advancing in Minnesota, Washington, DC and New York City
Ranked choice voting (RCV) has a simple goal: accommodate voter choice. More choice means more power, and RCV provides a bottom-up solution to problems with our electoral system that is a great way to reform both one-winner elections ("instant runoff voting") and multimember elections (see our groundbreaking Monopoly Politics 2014 and the Fair Representation Solution). We recently collected highlights from RCV news in 2014, from its ever-growing use for campus elections to new expressions of support from top political leaders. Just this week former U.S. Senator David Durenberger (R-MN) has a strong commentary about how RCV has reduced the impact of campaign spending, while I was among several presenters of papers on RCV at an important electoral reform conference last week at Stanford.
Ranked choice voting bills have been introduced in numerous state legislatures in 2013-2014, with particularly promising progress reported on by our friends at FairVote Minnesota. FairVote's neighbors in Washington, DC, may become the next major city to adopt the instant runoff voting (IRV) form of RCV to elect its local officials. In March, Councilmember David Grosso introduced his IRV legislation to reform all primary and general elections. With early support from co-sponsors David Catania, Mary Cheh, and Tommy Wells and a large mayoral field drawing attention to the problem of "split votes" and "spoilers," the bill needs just three votes for a council majority. Meanwhile, New York City has a vibrant movement for adoption of IRV in citywide primaries, led by the city council speaker and civic groups like the Citizens Union. There is legislation to enact IRV in future city elections moving in both the city council and the state legislature.
Honor Women’s History Month by Highlighting our State of Women's Representation 2013-2014 Report
As we celebrate women’s achievements during Women’s History Month, we should also remember what women have not come close to achieving: parity for men and women in elected office. Representation 2020’s State of Women’s Representation Report 2013-2014 maps out the gender disparity in politics for all fifty states, and proposes solutions as we move toward the centennial of the women's suffrage amendment in 2020.
University of District Columbia Law School host “Law Day" on March 22
Our friends at the University of the District of Columbia Clark Law School this January were great hosts for our Promote Our Vote project conference. They are hosting their own open house for prospective students, which will be held on Saturday, March 22. If you’re considering law school, attending a Law Day is a great way to get the information you need. Here is more information on the event and registration.
FairVote Board Events a Big Success
Last week, we hosted some great events with our visiting board members -- including our well-attended congressional briefing on the right to vote amendment and reforming U.S. House elections (watch footage), a standing-room-only "Democracy party" (with a Krist Novoselic performance highlighted by Rolling Stone), and a meet-and-greet with our pro bono law partner. We want to thank everyone who helped make our board visit unforgettable!
FairVote Interns and Democracy Fellows
The application deadline for our 2014-2015 democracy fellows has passed, with another remarkable pool of applicants for us to consider -- I wish we could hire a score of them! We also our nearly finished with selection of our summer interns. Thanks so much to our current crew of staff, fellows and interns, which is doing great work that is regularly featured at FairVote.org. Finally, please don't forget our First Million campaign that is part of our plan to elevate our reform work this hear -- our thanks to the many donors who have stepped up their giving this year.
All the best,
Rob Richie, Executive Director
P.S. Happy St. Patrick's Day! Ireland has used ranked choice voting to elect both its president and parliament for decades.