As we take a proverbial big breath heading into 2018, we can reflect on a remarkable two months for electoral reform and ranked choice voting. Our advances give me hope, but underscore how 2018 promises to be the most important year in the history of our drive for elections that give Americans greater choice, a stronger voice and truly representative government.
Ranked choice voting boosts turnout and positive campaign: RCV was used in four cities last month, including Minneapolis and St, Paul in Minnesota and cities in Maryland and Massachusetts. All four cities experienced large surges in voter participation in their RCV contests. Read our summary of the results, check out the latest from FairVote Minnesota and watch a short Minneapolis Star Tribune video with memorable comments from both winning and losing candidates on what RCV meant in their elections.
Mainers elevate ranked choice voting: It’s been a rollercoaster ride in Maine since voters’ big win in 2016 when RCV earned the second most votes in Maine’s initiative history. The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting is leading the drive for a June 2018 referendum that would keep RCV in place for all U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state primary elections. With RCV being used for large candidate fields in primaries for governor and other state and federal office, the League of Women Voters of Maine is among groups planning a voter education. A local TV news story showcased the current volunteer-run petition campaign, and the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center is ready and able to help Maine have a terrific first use of RCV.
Victory in Santa Fe keeps ranked choice voting on track for 2018: A decade after passing RCV by a two-to-one margin, Santa Fe voter have won their right to elect a new mayor with RCV in March. FairVote New Mexico’s Maria Perez was a plaintiff in a winning lawsuit that last month required the city to use the turnkey solution it has for RCV elections. It’s been inspiring to see big crowds turn out to court hearings and city council meetings; on Wednesday, the council made final arrangements for how it will use RCV and the city published a new website. See our litigation archive that includes glowing editorials about the lawsuit outcome from the Santa Fe New Mexican and Albuquerque Journal.
Growing number of cities and states advance RCV: Ranked choice voting is a reform that earns support from across the spectrum, which is one reason FairVote chooses to focus on it. A number of both “red” and “blue” states will have RCV bills (20 did so in 2017), and there are promising opportunities to win RCV in cities in in Alaska, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Utah, and Washington, along with New York City, where the one of the state election board co-chairs recently testified in support of adopting RCV. Benton County (OR) plans to implement its 2016 ballot measure win for RCV, while the council of Santa Clara (CA) has unanimously placed a measure on the June 2018 ballot to use RCV for mayor and other citywide offices and to establish the multi-winner, fair representation form of RCV for city council races along the lines of the Fair Representation Act in Congress. We also will support a strong coalition of local supporters heading off a repeal attempt in Memphis (TN); see television coverage of the impressive level of grassroots support.
Debut of FairVote’s Voices and Choices blog: FairVote is increasing our own content at our new Voices and Choices blog, and will be placing our writings on a growing number of media channels. Check out regular commentary and analysis, including recent interviews by top gerrymandering journalist and FairVote communications director Dave Daley with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Congressman Rod Blum and coverage of Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page’s new book that calls for RCV and fair representation. I also had a widely published op-ed on how our high levels of political polarization are far more grounded in voting rules than social media.
Watch FairVote speakers in Colorado and Georgia and stay tuned for New Orleans: FairVote staff and Board members are regularly on the road, with Dave Daley particularly busy in 2017. Nicely produced videos of recent events featuring myself and board chair Krist Novoselic at a well-attended forum in December organized with the Denver Elections Department, and TED-style talks by me and by Krist at Kennesaw State in Georgia last month. I’ll be joining FairVote California’s Jenn Pae and our Representation2020 project’s Cynthia Terrell speaking in February at the big Unrig the System summit in New Orleans.
Reformers gather at national summit and have updated toolkit: Organized by outreach director Scott Siebel and the rest of our outreach team, FairVote held an excellent national sumit with reformers from some 20 states last month, with pushes for reform building in states like Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia and Washington. Resources featured at the summit are collected in this updated activist toolkit. Sign up to get involved!
50 years of mandated winner-take-all for Congress and “Monopoly Politics”: Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the congressional mandate that all states must use winner-take-all elections in single-member districts. Watch our legal and policy director Drew Penrose’s video explaining why that law is so limiting for states and voters, how our Monopoly Politics report can project safe winners in nearly nine-in-ten House races ,and how the Fair Representation Act marks a better way.
FairVote celebrates Democracy Champions and bids farewell to John Anderson: We were thrilled with our 2017 Democracy Champions awards last month in New York City, with wonderful speeches you can enjoy online from the likes of Jonathan Alter, Reihan Salam, Liz Krueger, Hendrik Hertzberg, John Avlon and Rashad Robinson. But also were saddened by the passing of our remarkable co-founder and former Congressman and presidential candidate John B. Anderson; read remembrances by me and others.
It’s that time of year: We’re really happy and pleased to have the support of so many generous donors, including many who gave last month with our Gates Foundation match opportunity and those who give through our online donation portal. We’d like to think we’ve earned your support, and are committed to our best year yet in 2018. Thanks to all of you who are chipping in for a better democracy, and all my best to you and your loved ones as 2017 comes to a close.