This report traces the history of the Voting Rights Act, from its origins in 1965 through its opposition and its continued renewal. Specifically, the report details how Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires those states covered under Section 5 to preclear all proposed voting changes, including redistricting efforts, with the Department of Justice before their enactment. The advent of the Voting Rights Act, specifically Section 5, has been instrumental in preventing states from making changes which could potentially discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities. Throughout the history of Section 5 cases before the Supreme Court, the Court has yet to rule Section 5 is invalid.
Ranked choice absentee ballots provide a legal and practical solution to the disenfranchisement of military and overseas voters in runoff elections. These ballots enable U.S. citizens covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 (UOCAVA) to cast votes when the ballot turnaround time between first and second elections is short.
The number of swing states (generously defined as ones projected to be won by 9% or less in a year in which the major parties candidates split the national popular vote) has dropped sharply since 1988, especially among our nation's largest and smallest states. In 2008, only one of the 13 smallest states and only 4 of the 27 smallest states were swing states. This trend shows no indication of changing, with all trends pointing to wider division.
FairVote's most recent review of redistricting reform in the states in 2009-2010 presents a mix of optimism and frustration for supporters of redistricting in the public interest rather than in the best interest of the political duopoly.
The Board of Supervisors race in District 10 was an unprecedented race in San Francisco’s seven-year history of using ranked choice voting (the first RCV elections took place in 2004). It featured 21 candidates, no incumbent and no obvious front runners. That resulted in an election in which the winning candidate, Malia Cohen, barely edged out the competition in an exceptionally close race.Given the parameters of this race, RCV functioned smoothly to produce a winner that was preferred by the most voters. It fostered a degree of coalition-building as candidates and voters used the ranked ballots effectively, and unlike other races this race was substantially free of negative, mudslinging attacks as the multi-candidate field focused on seeking the second and third rankings from the supporters of other candidates.
FairVote Summer intern Rebecca Guterman interviewed Tim Hwang, Student Member of the Board of Education in Montgomery County, MD, to highlight a practice that helps both the student representative and the rest of the student population gain experience in voting and representative government.