By Demarquin Johnson
Today, September 15th, marks the annual celebration of the International Day of Democracy. In creating this day, the United Nations underscored the undeniable value of democratic governance. FairVote echoes this sentiment in its advocacy for reforms to ensure fair elections and a more representative government.
A healthy democracy encourages the input of citizens to develop political, economic, social, and cultural policies. Because of the widespread impact of government actions, countries benefit from inclusive practices. Diverse perspectives from citizens result in unique solutions to, national, regional, and local issues. There are myriad examples around the world of advances in democratic governments, but there is still room for growth.
To fully embrace democracy, nations must make strides to ensure all citizens are able to be heard and represented. This includes ethnic minorities, women, and other marginalized groups throughout their electorates. Additionally, political minorities, independents, and third party candidates deserve a fair chance in elections. It is clear that although our country seeks that kind of democracy, we are far from realizing it. Women and minority groups are vastly underrepresented in legislatures and participation in the electoral process. Hence, governments lack diversity and constituents lack representation. These are not components of a healthy democracy. The integrity of government requires greater engagement with all citizens.
FairVote has a long history of advocating for research-backed reforms to improve the electoral process. In the interest of a truly democratic society, we advocate for multi-winner districts with ranked choice voting, where more than one person is elected to represent a diverse group of constituents, resulting in broader representation. Ranked choice voting (RCV) further ensures elected officials represent their district by allowing voters to indicate their candidates by preference, which ensures majority rule and democratic outcomes. Because voters can rank their choices, candidates must reach beyond their base and find common ground with their opponents, decreasing polarization and negativity in political campaigns. RCV also has a positive impact on the representation of women in politics. In California, for example, cities like San Francisco and Oakland saw the number of women elected to office increase by more than ten percentage points.
Without a doubt, a government that includes the voices of diverse groups can better serve its constituents. Today is a great day to appreciate global advances, but there is much more work to do to make democracy better and more representative. Happy International Day of Democracy!