E-Newsletter February 4, 2009

Released February 4, 2009
FairVote e-News

It's a new year, and already one filled with important developments for supporters of fair elections and increased civic engagement in the United States. Here at FairVote, we have a new team of energetic interns, a growing collection of innovative ideas and analyses to share and dozens of new bills in Congress and the states advancing our proposals.

The table of contents to the right shows how our analysts this year have been featured on C-SPAN, the New York Times editorial page and legislative hearings. Winning a National Popular Vote for president is earning 70%-plus support in states around the nation.

Finally, please keep supporting your favorite electoral reform groups. It's a tough financial time for everyone, but I was thrilled with the response to our year-end appeal for support. The road to the "way democracy will be" lies before us -- let's keep moving forward!

All best,

Rob Richie
Executive Director

FairVote Highlights Need for Mandatory Senate Vacancy Elections

David Segal, a FairVote analyst and Rhode Island legislator, has a commentary (a "must read" according to Rick Hasen in his election law blog) in the New York Times focused on the importance of filling U.S. Senate vacancies by election rather than gubernatorial appointments. FairVote pursued a special project on this proposal in 2007, issuing a report and publishing a commentary. Events since have underscored the value of having U.S. Senators have the same kind of accountability to voters that every U.S. House Member has always had. The same day, Sen. Russ Feingold, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, announced that he would be introducing a constitutional amendment to require election of vacancies. Later in the week, Sen. John McCain was among co-sponsors of Sen. Feingold's amendment, SJ Resolution 7.

Full Speed Ahead for IRV & Choice Voting in Minneapolis

A county judge in Minnesota has sided on every legal issue with the city of Minneapolis and defendant intervenor FairVote Minnesota in a challenge against Minneapolis implementing instant runoff voting and choice voting for its elections this November. The ruling is a sweeping victory for advocates of IRV and proportional voting in Minneapolis. With a 65% mandate from voters in a 2006 measure, the city will move forward on implementing these systems for November 2009.

The ruling comes in the midst of major interest in instant runoff voting in Minnesota in the wake of the controversial U.S. Senate recount. The Washington Post cited it in an editorial on Jan. 13, while several leading Minnesotans have embraced IRV for statewide elections.

Bills promoting instant runoff voting are advancing in several states, and Burlington, Vermont is gearing up for a hotly-contested, five-candidate race for mayor this March in its second instant runoff voting election.

Electoral College Reform Gathers Steam, CSPAN Attention

The current Electoral College system is a democratic eyesore. It allows for the election of presidential candidates with fewer votes than opponents and makes most Americans spectators in the election of their president. FairVote supports a national popular vote for president. Its executive director Rob Richie was a guest on C-SPAN's Washington Journal on January 8th for a debate on the Electoral College. FairVote also welcomes new legislation by Sen. Bill Nelson to change the Constitution and is particularly focused on the drive for the National Popular Vote plan in the states.

More than two dozen state polls since the 2008 election show a strong rise in support for a national popular vote, with 70%-plus support in a full range of states, reflecting diversity of geography, population, political leanings and battleground states.

Keep track of the progress of National Popular Vote legislation at www.nationalpopularvote.com.

FairVote Board Member Video Bios & A Welcome to New Staff & Interns

FairVote's Member Outreach Coordinator, Rebecca Blumenshine is kicking off a series of new web videos, starting with Board member video bios. You can watch interviews with our directors below: We'd also like to take a moment to thank Josh Loh, FairVote's legal fellow, who is moving on to become a JAG officer in the Army National Guard -- and to welcome Matt Morse, who is stepping in as a research analyst. Matt will be picking up presidential elections research where Laura Kirshner left off, with an additional focus on instant runoff voting. FairVote also welcomes a new crew of energetic interns, such as Erik Connell who is focusing on IRV advocacy, Brendan Buff who will join our Program for Representative Government team, and Christian Abraham, who will assist with development and outreach efforts.

For more information on interning with FairVote, click [HERE].

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