Reform Roundup: December 2nd

Posted by Avi Steele on December 02, 2016

Catch up on the week’s electoral reform news with our round up of folks across the country writing and talking about FairVote’s reform vision. We also invite you to read these highlights of great press for ranked choice voting in 2016.

  • In the wake of the 2016 election, Amber Phillips of the Washington Post highlights the latest electoral reforms, including ranked choice voting: “If anything can spur voting reforms, experts say, the 2016 presidential election — in which Americans had to choose between the two least-liked major-party candidates in history — might be it. And several states already have started laying the groundwork for a new way of voting... Maine thinks it has found a better way. This month, voters there made Maine the first state in the nation to approve ranked-choice voting.”

  • Writing for the Washington Post’s The Fix, Aaron Blake highlights the degree to which entrenched partisan divides complicate redistricting: “The election reform group FairVote called it back in 2013: ‘California's citizens have taken away from the politicians the power to choose their voters, and that was reflected in the high incumbent turnover in 2012. But no matter who is drawing the lines, the polarization of the American electorate makes achieving competitive single-member districts effectively impossible on a large scale.’ The goal of California's commission wasn't necessarily to create a bunch of toss-up races every year. But it does show how elusive that goal can be — even when things are more ‘fair.’ And for those who'd like to make their members of Congress squirm on Election Day a little more often, that's worth remembering.”

  • FairVote’s Chairman of the Board Krist Novoselic appears on to Sputnik Radio News to speak about electoral reform: “Most voters in the United States wasted their votes, due to gerrymandering, so you’re stuck in this congressional district that was drawn by these insiders, these political elites, and it was drawn for one party or another. So basically, if you were drawn in the majority of a district, you most likely wasted your vote because the winner didn’t really need your vote, so it was just a surplus vote. And the same if you’re drawn in the minority. What happens with ranked choice voting, there’s less wasted votes and it’s also more transparent.’”

  • Duke University student ​David Wohlever Sánchez explains the necessary improvements to our electoral system: “When our preferences are being so egregiously represented by the choices available to us on the ballot, something is clearly amiss. This indicates at least three considerations we must make to ensure that our elections properly reflect the collective voice of the people. First, we need to look at rank voting and other innovative methods that more fully reflect the preferences of the electorate. Rather than having people cast a vote for only one person, voters would have the chance to rank their preferences, creating a fuller representation of the voice of the public.”

  • Tim Cotton pens a column for the Daily Progress advocating for sensible reforms to accommodate a modern electorate: “We are no longer a nation that can be pigeon-holed into one party or another. There are even factions within parties. We are much more diverse than that with many thoughts on government, society and the future … We need a system based on ranked choice voting, whereby every vote counts and every voice is heard.”

  • John Nichols argues in The Nation that electoral reform is needed in the wake of an election won by the popular vote loser: “There are national movements under way to address the mess made when the Electoral College trumps democracy ... the bipartisan National Popular Vote initiative. Promoted by the group FairVote, it commits the states to respect the will of the people as part of a multistate compact, under which states pledge to assign their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote nationwide. The compact only takes effect when states with a majority of the nation’s electoral votes—270 or more—have signed on. So far, 10 states and the District of Columbia—totaling 165 votes—have agreed to the compact. Pro-compact bills have been submitted in additional states across the country, with both Democratic and Republican support; they should gain traction as the bitter experience of 2016 reminds Americans that something must be done.”

  • Richard Wagner writes in The Pavlovic Today about the structural electoral issues facing America other than the electoral college: “Wouldn’t you like to be able to actually vote for your favorite candidate, but in the event that that candidate really does lose, cast another vote one of the remaining candidates that you prefer over the others?  The best approach to this would be the 'instant runoff elections', also known as 'single transferable vote'.”

  • Michael Feinstein of Santa Monica calls for local reforms to facilitate fair representation: “Ranked-choice voting would improve Santa Monica’s democracy by empowering even more residents to elect someone representing their views — while retaining their right to vote for all seats.  RCV does this because no single group of voters can rank all of their favored candidates number one. By definition, different parts of the electorate will gain representation under RCV, as long as they reach a certain threshold of first rankings, regardless of who other voters support. Under our current electoral system, a plurality or majority of voters often win disproportionally greater share of seats than their numbers represent.  Under RCV, the result are more directly proportional.”

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