FairVote Summer intern Rebecca Guterman interviewed Tim Hwang, Student Member of the Board of Education in Montgomery County, MD, to highlight a practice that helps both the student representative and the rest of the student population gain experience in voting and representative government.
On June 8, 2010, the voters of California approved Proposition 14, “The Top Two Primaries Act,” (“the Act”) with 53.7% of the vote. In its own words, the Act’s intention is “to protect and preserve the right of every Californian to vote for the candidate of his or her choice.” All general elections will be won with a majority of the vote, and voters in the primary are generally free to vote for their true first choice with little fear that doing so will help elect their least favored candidate. Many of its backers argued that by giving independent voters more influence in determining which candidates advance to the general election, the Act would result in more moderate politicians and less gridlock in the legislature.
This review of redistricting reform in the states in 2009-2010 presents a mix of optimism and frustration for supporters of redistricting in the public interest. Of the many proposals addressed by the fifty state legislatures in 2009-2010, very few passed. Most of the proposals have died or are stuck in committee. Given the fact that the laws in many states prohibit redistricting more than once a decade, few states are likely to engage in redistricting with any new, less partisan procedures before 2021 at the earliest.
From 1948 to 2009, 90.4 percent of all gubernatorial general elections nationwide were won with greater than 50 percent of the popular vote. None were won with less than 35 percent of all votes cast. Fifteen states elected all of their governors with a majority of votes cast. Among the other states, Maine had the most plurality-elected governors, with 7 of their 19 races in this span.
On November 24th 2007, Australia elected its House of Representatives with instant runoff voting (IRV), as it has for more than eight decades. After four straight election defeats, the Labor Party won a landslide majority of seats. Under IRV, Labor's initial 44% of first choices turned into a clear majority after considering the choices of supporters of third party candidates with too little support to win seats. The Green Party's 7.79% share of the national vote largely went to Labor in House races; that share earned several senate seats elected by proportional voting. Due in large part to compulsory voting, turnout was 94.77%; Australians rank near the top of national comparisons of voter satisfaction with their government.
The Japanese parliamentary elections in August 30, 2009 marked a turning point in Japan’s political history. Since 1955, Japan has been dominated by one party, with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as the governing party for all but 11 months. But in these elections the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) defeated the LDP, winning 308 seats to 109 for the LDP in the 480-seat House of Representatives.
This report makes clear the extent to which the preferences of black and urban voters are under-represented in the nomination process. It then argues that an early primary in Washington, D.C. is the only way to give these loyal Democratic constituencies an effective voice in the 2008 nomination.