Voices & Choices

FairVote Webinar Rewind: Making Every Vote Count

FairVote Webinar Rewind: Making Every Vote Count

This Fall, FairVote is holding a series of webinars to take a deep look at The Future of American Elections. The inaugural webinar, called “Making Every Vote Count,” was held on Friday, August 28.

FairVote Senior Communications Fellow David Daley moderated the event. He was joined by Neal Simon, an independent candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018; former Utah State Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck; and University of Kentucky professor Joshua Douglas, who specializes in voting rights and election law. With diverse backgrounds in academia, lawmaking and campaigning, each of the panelists brought a unique and valuable perspective about the state of American democracy and what we can do to fix it.

 

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Highlights: 

  • The panelists began by discussing how ranked choice voting (RCV) could improve our democracy. Simon explained that American’s current election system encourages candidates to appeal to either the liberal or conservative base, but RCV could change that dynamic by requiring majority winners and incentivizing candidates to be civil to get second choice votes (4:49). 
  • Chavez-Houck talks about the strong bipartisan momentum for RCV in Utah, with both parties finding it an efficient system at their virtual conventions this year (9:34).
  • Douglas framed RCV as a step in the broader project of expanding who can participate in American democracy, and as essential to achieving our founding principle of a political system based on the consent of the governed (15:06).  
  • Simon says that the Fair Representation Act - which combines RCV with multi-member congressional districts to achieve proportional representation - would leave more voters satisfied with their representation in Congress than plurality voting does (22:25).
  • All three speakers agreed that local governments play a pivotal role in national election reform movements, because when localities adopt reforms it builds momentum behind them and shows off their ability to succeed. Douglas urged states to pass local options laws allowing municipalities and counties to enact election reforms for themselves (28:31).
  • Chavez-Houck discussed a poll in two Utah cities that piloted RCV, which found that over 80 percent of voters and candidates were pleased with the process and wanted to keep using it (33:10).
  • Daley asked the panelists to give their thoughts on what a constitutional voting rights amendment would mean for American democracy (36:45).
  • The group discussed ideas for how to depoliticize the conversation around election reform. Douglas pointed to the importance of publicizing the efforts of reformers on both sides so neither party feels left out, while Simon discussed the possibility of tying in different election reforms that each side wants to create compromise reform bills (43:40). 

We invite anyone interested in making democracy fairer to join us for the next two parts of this webinar series, which are:

  • Innovating for a More Reflective Government: On September 15 at 12 pm EDT, Daley will interview Daniel Newman, author of Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy, and Katherine Gehl, co-author of The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy. You can sign up here.
  • Redefining Representation for American Voters: On October 1 at 12 pm EDT, Daley will interview Harvard University political science professor and author Danielle Allen, and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld. You can sign up here
 

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