Remarkable progress for RCV in Utah, FairVote at SXSW, and more

Posted on March 06, 2017

Dear Friend, 


Highlights:

  • Bipartisan Utah House votes 59-12 to support ranked choice voting for all major federal, state and local elections

  • 18 states have RCV bills / Maine news

  • Rob Richie, Cynthia Terrell, Krist Novoselic, Dave Daley speaking at South by Southwest in Austin, TX

  • Hello’s and goodbye’s for staff / New job openings

  • RCV used by political parties and schools -- Canada Conservatives, Iowa Democrats, and more

 

Ranked choice voting (RCV) keeps building momentum on the heels of Maine’s historic vote to establish RCV for nearly all its federal and state elections, starting in 2018. State legislators in at least 18 states have introduced legislation to advance ranked choice voting, with impressive bipartisan support: bills in 11 states are sponsored by Republicans, while bills in 13 states are sponsored by Democrats.

The bipartisan appeal of ranked choice voting was on full display last week when the Utah House voted 59-12 in favor of sweeping legislation which would adopt RCV or nearly all Utah elections. The bill was introduced by a Democrat, but garnered more than 70% support from Utah House Republicans, including its chamber leaders. During debate on the bill, one legislator stated, “Ranked choice voting represents the future. Runoffs represent the past.”

Karen Brinson from the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center (RankedChoiceVoting.org), a FairVote project focused on helping with the technical details of RCV implementation, testified today at a Utah hearing in the Senate. The committee deadlocked at 3-3 in advancing the bill, meaning that it will not be passed into law this year. However, advocates remain optimistic for next year given this year’s progress.

Stay tuned for advances in more states and in cities from coast to coast. We’ll also have more news soon regarding a congressional bill on fair representation that would combine RCV with multi-winner district elections.

More ranked choice voting news

  • Ranked choice voting was front and center again at this year’s Academy Awards, where Moonlight was awarded Best Picture using RCV. Plurality results from other categories suggest that Moonlight almost certainly defeated La La Land head-to-head in the final “instant runoff.” Rob Richie explained the value of RCV’s use at the Academy Awards for the Huffington Post, and our soon-to-be-unveiled RCV App was tested with a vote that showed Moonlight barely losing to Hidden Figures.

  • Ranked choice voting is widely used among associations of all kinds. All of Canada’s major political parties use RCV to elect their leaders, including the Conservative Party this spring. Iowa Democrats used RCV to pick their state chair, while Arlington County (VA) Democrats will use RCV at their firehouse primaries in May to nominate candidates for school board and the Board of Supervisors. More than 50 American colleges and universities use RCV for student government elections, including hotly contested recent ones at Georgetown and the University of Minnesota.

  • Maine’s Supreme Court has been asked to provide an advisory opinion on the legality of RCV for state offices under the state constitution. FairVote’s pro bono partners Akin Gump and Hogan Lovells did excellent work in our brief, and an array of Maine civic groups and legal experts filed powerful briefs as well. Oral argument is in April, with attorneys for the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting making the case for RCV.

 

FairVote speakers at South by Southwest, Reason and New York City

  • FairVote Board Chair Krist Novoselic, Representation2020 Director Cynthia Terrell, senior fellow Dave Daley and FairVote executive director Rob Richie will all be speaking at SXSW in Austin, TX in the coming week. Cynthia will speak at a session on representation of women on Friday, Rob on Electoral College reform on Monday and Dave and Krist in a dialogue on fair representation voting and music on Tuesday.

  • Dave Daley joins FairVote next week, but has been speaking all around the country about redistricting reform, including talks in California, Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio in the past month.

  • Cynthia headlined an event on her Representation2020 project on March 5th that drew a large crowd, including past and current Members of Congress, cabinet secretaries and state legislators.

  • Krist is speaking on electoral reform at Reason Magazine’s “Reason Weekend 2017” in Palos Verdes, California on March 11.

  • Rob is speaking on April 5th at CUNY in New York City in a forum on Fixing Elections: The Politics of Electoral Reform in NYC, Then and Now.


Farewells, Greetings, and New Job Openings

We’ve said goodbye to Communications Director Michelle Whittaker, and Research Director Sarah John, who have taken positions with other organizations. We thank both of them for their many contributions to FairVote and democracy reform, and wish them the best! 

We also welcome the addition of author and journalist David Daley as a full-time senior fellow to write about reform and help guide our communication team. Today also marks the start of Maria Perez’s work directing our FairVote New Mexico project. Roman Montoya and Connie Schmidt are joining our Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center this month as well. FairVote veterans Steven Hill (co-founder of FairVote and author of such books as Fixing Elections and 10 Steps to Repair American Democracy) and Terrill Bouricius (former Vermont state legislator) are now part-time senior fellows as well.

After a strong year of raising support from foundations and individuals (thanks to all of you who have been part of quadrupling our number of donors in the past year), we are in the final weeks of considering applications for six positions in the FairVote office. Please help spread the word! We also will soon start reviewing applications for 2017-2018 democracy fellows and summer 2017 internships (with scholarships available for internships based on financial need).

New research and reports

In the wake of November’s congressional elections, and in anticipation of introducing a bill in congress this summer, our research department has been busy crunching numbers and making the case for change. I encourage you to explore the many reports we have released in 2017, and stay tuned for the release of a major reports in the coming month on our fair representation plans for Congress, redistricting reform in the states, the impact of county-level reform and Representation2020.

Visit the “What’s New” tab on our website for new pieces on RCV in the states, an analysis of new Members in Congress, international elections with more advanced voting systems and much more.


Thanks for reading!

Austin Plier
Manager of Communications

 


 
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