Under our current electoral rules, too many potential voters do not participate, too many voters are ignored and too many elected officials poorly reflect the communities they represent. Loss of suffrage rights, poor voter registration rules and problematic election administration decisions keep tens of millions of American adults from access to the ballot. Our current Electoral College system leads presidential candidates to concentrate their resources on voters in a handful of the same swing states, leaving most Americans (disproportionately of color) as spectators. Similarly, winner-take-all voting rules in legislative elections suffocate competition, and severely limit opportunities for diverse voices to be heard and for the fair representation of racial minorities, women and promoters of new ideas. Underdog candidates can increase voter choice and incentives for higher voter turnout, but under current rules can divide the vote and thwart the will of the majority.
The end result is an unrepresentative democracy that leaves far too many people from a seat at the table of government and too often fail to achieve policies that are equitable and that anticipate problems rather than react to them. Our schools leave a significant gap in civic knowledge and political participation among students based on race, income and the expectation of attending college, leaving a lasting impact on the political viability of entire communities. Far too many young people grow up without understanding their role in the democratic process, both as participants and as potential agents of reform, and thereby fail to run for office, engage with elected leaders or participate in elections.
As a catalyst for electoral reform and voting rights, FairVote educates and enlivens discourse on how best to achieve a democracy that respects every voice and every vote. We pursue innovative research, strategic outreach and civic education in order to promote fair access to political participation, fair elections with transparent election administration and meaningful choices, and fair representation grounded in majority rule and proportional representation for all. We focus attention on five bold yet achievable reforms: a constitutionally protected right to vote, universal voter registration, a national popular vote for president, instant runoff voting for single-winner offices and choice voting for legislatures. Because long-term change flows from the bottom upward, we also seek to empower our communities, particularly youth, to understand their role in our democracy as participants and agents of change.