Voices & Choices

The Fair Representation Act Symposium Spotlight: Neal Simon

The Fair Representation Act Symposium Spotlight: Neal Simon

At a time when Americans increasingly feel like our elections are broken, a bold new proposal has been put forward. The Fair Representation Act is intended to create meaningful voting reform by replacing our winner-take-all system with a fair and proportional system: Ranked choice voting.

Hear scholars and practitioners discuss what impact the Fair Representation Act would have on our democracy at our upcoming symposium, A Congress for Everyone: The Impact of the Fair Representation Act.

February 4th at 3:00pm, New York University, Washington DC. Click here to learn more and RSVP.

Where did your passion for Democracy begin?
I became passionate about democracy and electoral reform when I realized that our federal government is failing to address big issues even at moments when we have broad consensus. For example, on immigration, three times in the past decade we’ve had bipartisan majorities propose solutions only to be derailed by partisans on both sides. The public also agrees about solutions to infrastructure, our debt and gun violence, yet nothing gets done.

Why do you support the Fair Rep Act?
At the core of our problems is the structure of our representative democracy. With single member legislative districts and first-past-the-post elections, our political system has evolved naturally into a polarized two-party system. Without change, the evolution will continue. We will become increasingly dysfunctional and divided. The problem will not solve itself; candidates and lawmakers have no incentive to do anything other than appeal to the base of their respective parties. With a new voting system and multi-member districts, the Fair Representation Act does more than any other reform to address this core issue.

If we enacted the Fair Rep Act tomorrow, how do you think it would change our politics?
The Fair Representation Act would mean: 

  1. Winners always have majority support
  2. Candidates will be more civil to each other
  3. More people will be represented, eg. conservatives in NY and liberals in TX
  4. The “spoiler argument” would be eliminated, giving independents and third parties a better chance for success

Who wouldn’t want that outcome?

What’s another pro-democracy movement you support and why?
I do not think the Fair Representation Act is a silver bullet. We need other reforms, including open primaries, nonpartisan redistricting, and campaign finance reform. American politics is quite broken, and it will take the combination of these reforms and others to truly fix the system.

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