Reform Roundup: February 10th, 2017

Posted by Paul Murphy on February 10, 2017

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

  • The Washington Post reports on former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley joining Governor Larry Hogan in calling for redistricting reform, and expressed personal support for rank choice voting: “We must, on a state-by-state basis, push for an end to gerrymandered congressional districts. This simple reform, already being adopted in some states, must become the new norm of American democracy. We must accelerate the adoption of nonpartisan redistricting commissions and other reforms, like ranked-choice voting.”
  • David Wise writes for the National Constitution Center about the need for structural electoral reform to bridge the divide in our politics: "States should adopt a system called “instant runoff voting” which allows ranking preferences in general elections to enable an immediate determination of a candidate who is acceptable to a majority. Seven states now have runoffs to ensure that the winners achieve a majority, but runoffs take time and cost additional resources. The technology is there to enable an immediate runoff vote and it should be adopted all the way up to the candidates for President."

  • FairVote board member Mike Lind wrote in The Smart Set about reforming our system to avoid becoming “partisan zombies”: "Unlike most democracies in the world today, the United States still uses the archaic, pre-modern “first-past-the-post” or “winner-take-all” electoral system instead of other methods that do not punish third parties, like ranked choice voting or proportional representation in multi-member legislative districts. These alternate electoral systems, instead of punishing third-party and independent candidates, allow other democracies to have multiparty systems."

  • Dennis Damon, a state senator from Maine, asks the state government in Augusta to support the will of the people and implement ranked choice voting:  “Ranked-choice voting was debated in the public arena for two years before the people spoke. Its pros and cons were debated for all to know. There was no geographic region, no media format and no social opportunity that was excluded from this question. Personally, my support for it resided in my belief that a basic tenet of our democracy is that the majority decides.”

  • Joel Bleifuss of In These Times discusses how we can replace our archaic winner-take-all election system with a more vibrant, innovative representative democracy: To that end, FairVote, a nonpartisan election reform group, has drafted the Fair Representation Act, which, if passed by Congress, would implement a system of proportional representation for all U.S. House races. It would replace our winner-take-all, single-winner congressional districts with fewer, multi-winner districts. In these new districts, three, four or five winners would be selected by RCV. While the majority would elect most of the seats, voters outside the majority could elect at least one representative who shares their interests—including every Latino voter in Texas, every Republican in Massachusetts and every Democrat in rural America. Gerrymandered district lines would not determine who wins the election: Voters would.

  • Eric Walcott, a state specialist with Michigan State University Extension, highlights how ranked choice voting greatly improves elections: “Proponents of ranked-choice voting argue that the system helps elect a candidate that better reflects the support of a majority of voters and more fairly represents the full spectrum of voters. They also argue that it discourages negative campaigning, because candidates wish to avoid alienating supporters of other candidates, hoping that even if they are not a voter’s first choice, they can still be near the top.”

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