| Rob Richie ∙ ivn.us |
For those seeking better elections and a more representative government in the United States, the coming year is a time of great promise and peril. We have a historic opportunity to advance comprehensive electoral reform, yet have much to lose if we fall short.
”Alaska is rightly getting support for a terrific rollout of its new RCV elections.
I’ve led FairVote since it launched in 1992, grounded in a vision of lifting up structural reform nationally while advancing change locally. Today’s increasingly fierce partisan divisions and deterioration of our core democratic institutions have energized volunteers, fostered national debate, unlocked resources and earned attention from policymakers as never before.
For FairVote, it’s always been important to ensure that every voter can cast a meaningful vote in every election, to embrace representing Americans’ diversity of thought and identity fairly, and to reward leaders for collaborative policymaking. What has broadened our movement is a sense of urgency about the problem and the promise of viable solutions. Major grantmakers like Unite America and the Hewlett and Arnold foundations deserve great credit, as do the many Americans who make a difference with their dollars and time.
FairVote already has catalyzed impactful major voting improvements. We’ve helped advance Electoral College reforms to ensure the candidate with the most votes always wins, curbs on partisan gerrymandering, voter registration for all eligible Americans, and state and local wins that have made ranked-choice voting today’s fastest-growing nonpartisan electoral reform in the country.
We have decided to zero in on a campaign to win our original reform priorities: normalizing the RCV ballot across the nation and changing winner-take-all elections for Congress. While deeply appreciative of those seeking other reforms and upholding voting rights, we see the congressional Fair Representation Act as the single most important long-term change to stabilize and strengthen our democracy. At the same time there’s much we must win along the way in states and cities.
Reframing the challenges to our democracy: The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol embodied the partisan divisions that are breaking our system of government. American institutions are designed for elected leaders with different views to advocate for their interests, then accept compromise. But that approach isn’t working with two starkly distinct factions whose backers increasingly fear the other side as an existential threat.
Winner-take-all voting rules have never meshed well with our Constitution, but it’s a worse fit than ever given the greater sophistication of political operatives who know how to win elections by driving fear of the other side. The case for change should not be seen as a win-lose proposition with zero-sum logic. Rather, we must lift up the value of addressing conflict by expanding voices at the table by replacing winner-take-all, single-choice elections. Long-term success for the Fair Representation Act will depend on how well we make this case.
Winning and supporting RCV across cities and states: We see real chances to win statewide uses of RCV legislatively, and anticipate a viable ballot measure that features RCV in Missouri. Alaska is rightly getting support for a terrific rollout of its new RCV elections. Locally, FairVote and our allies seek to increase the number of cities using RCV tenfold to more than 500 by 2025. Nearly 30 cities held RCV elections in 2021, and state groups and grassroots-focused allies like Rank the Vote can accelerate that progress.
FairVote’s goals depend on working in coalition with others. We thank the groups and people who make that possible, and prepare for 2022 with great anticipation.