Champions of Democracy Awardees 2019

FairVote is pleased to present awards to a remarkable group of deserving champions. This year's champions include brilliant activists, academics, our rock star board chairman, and a burgeoning rock star in the Congress. 

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin earns a 2019 Democracy Champion Award for national impact. Jamie is our first-ever repeat winner, having earned an award a decade ago for his leadership on democracy issues in the Maryland state legislature. Now in just his second term in the U.S. House, Raskin has become one of the nation’s most prominent voices on electoral reform and democracy issues, working tirelessly to make our elections fairer, stronger, and more positive.

This year, Jamie introduced the Ranked Choice Voting Act, which would require states to use RCV in primary and general elections for Congress beginning in 2022. He’s also a co-sponsor of the Fair Representation Act, which would combine RCV with multi-member House districts to ensure all citizens are heard in the electoral process and that every district has a meaningful, competitive race for the people’s House. 

In addition, Jamie was the architect of an amendment to two pieces of pro-democracy legislation that passed the U.S. House that would establish that all new voting equipment purchased with federal dollars would need to come ready to run RCV electionsa sensible requirement for a reform moving so quickly. He also has been outspoken in the media, including making an early call in the Hill for a change that is now will happen in several states: using RCV in presidential primaries in 2020. It’s a tremendous thrill to watch this former FairVote board member rise into the Democratic leadership.

 

Dr. Danielle Allen earns a 2019 Democracy Champion Award for achievement in national communications. Dr. Allen is the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard, and director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. She is co-chair of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, which is a product of the American Academy of  Arts and Sciences.

The Harvard University political theorist is a brilliant writer and storyteller, steeped in history, and willing to embrace bold ideas to better perfect our democracy. In a Washington Post column last year, for example, she embraced the key provisions of the Fair Representation Act in a piece that moved seamlessly between James Madison, Donald Trump, and social media. “How do we build institutions that can ward off the threat of faction?” she asked. “We actually need to rethink our system of representation, perhaps adopting measures such as multi-member districts and ranked-choice voting to broaden representation.”

This year, she argued compellingly in the Post that “We are in our Articles of Confederation Moment,” featuring a recommendation to: “...introduce ranked-choice voting in presidential, House and Senate elections. This system would force politicians to campaign and spend money so as to be not only some voters’ first choice but also other voters’ second or third choices, forcing candidates to cease demonizing other candidates whose supporters they hope to win over as a second choice. Ranked-choice voting, as recently adopted in Maine, can be done state by state and would yield a less polarized, more functional Congress. Our world is very different from the one the founding generation lived in. We can and should adopt the founders’ principles — the need to balance republican safety and energy. But we will need to think for ourselves, in our new circumstances, about how to design our institutions to achieve that balance. Let the thinking begin.”

 

State Reform Achievement Award: OneVirginia2021

OneVirginia2021 earns a 2019 Democracy Champion Award for its tireless and creative coalition building in Virginia that created a giant step forward for redistricting reform. Earlier this year, a bipartisan array of lawmakers passed the first read of a state constitutional amendment that would end partisan gerrymandering in Virginia. Now comes the even harder part: Winning a second vote in 2020, even if the legislature changes hands this fall. Executive director Brian Cannon and his dedicated team have energetically advanced reform in every imaginable way, building a grass-roots operation that's visible everywhere Virginians go, working with lawmakers across the aisle, making films to explain complicated concepts, supporting litigation, and sponsoring hundreds of events across the state to educate voters. They're a real model of how to approach nonpartisan reform. 

(More profiles will be added.)

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