Voices & Choices

Outreach team expands FairVote’s work in states, leads activist training and support

Outreach team expands FairVote’s work in states, leads activist training and support

FairVote’s Outreach department had an extremely productive and effective 2017. Lead by Outreach Director Scott Siebel and Deputy Outreach Director Grace Ramsey, the team has been working to bring ranked choice voting (RCV) to cities and states across the country. They are joined by National Outreach Specialist Shane McKibben, and two Outreach Fellows, myself, and Ruben Lebron. Assisted by the rest of the program staff and the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center, we focus on being an effective hub for reformers in states around the country seeking to work for and implement ranked choice voting.

One of the most exciting projects we worked on this year is H.R. 3057, the Fair Representation Act (FRA), introduced by Congressman Don Beyer, and co-sponsored by Congressmen Jamie Raskin, Ro Khanna and Jim Cooper. If passed, the FRA would improve our congressional elections by instituting RCV with multi-member districts and independent redistricting commissions. This gives voters the opportunity to elect members of the House who will better reflect their views. The bill moved through the House Judiciary Committee and has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Constitution and Civil Justice.

Throughout 2017, the Outreach team had meetings with Congressional staffers on how the FRA would make every vote count in a RCV election, and how multi-member districts will lead to more fair representation in Congress. We have also had successful consultations with staff members on the House Subcommittee on Constitution and Civil Justice. More meetings with more member’s offices will take place in 2018.

In addition, we've had great success with RCV legislation in state legislatures. In 2017, RCV legislation was introduced in 19 states including Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C. One particularly thrilling victory is the passage of RCV legislation in the Utah House of Representatives.

We continue to be at the forefront of the electoral reform movement around RCV. To further expand, FairVote has focused on partnering with state and local groups across the country to more effectively advocate for the kind of positive change RCV brings to voters. From Massachusetts to Oregon, from Virginia to New Mexico, volunteers are organizing around RCV in their states to give voters a greater voice in our democracy. FairVote’s Outreach department is focused on building this movement from the ground up in every state.

One of our key strategies is educating volunteers on the methods and tools of successful advocacy. We were very pleased to host a national activist summit this year, which drew an unprecedented number of RCV organizers to our 2-day event in Washington, DC. Dozens of advocates from 19 states and Canada learned techniques on organizing, fundraising, media relations, social media best practices and implementation of RCV. At the summit, we introduced our improved activist toolkit, a useful instrument that volunteers will be able to employ in their local work. You can check out the new toolkit and see what groups are organizing in your state here.

Looking to 2018, it's looking to be a big year. RCV already is on the ballot in cities in California and Massachusetts, with several more making progress. Mainers have great local reformers leading campaigns to win a critically important state referendum in June to keep RCV in place for  congressional and primary elections and make sure RCV goes well in statewide primaries at the same time We'll see RCV  legislation in a large number of states, and anticipate real progress in both Republican and Democratic-run chambers;;already, bills have been prefiled for the upcoming legislative session in Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont and Utah. And of course we'll keep working with groups and individuals around the nation to help reform our democracy and give voters a greater voice in their elections and fairer representation in their government.


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