E-Newsletter July 14, 2007

Released July 14, 2007
FairVote July Update
Support Fair Elections


FairVote is taking a lead role in organizing a national Claiming Democracy conference on advancing electoral reform that will take place in Washington, D.C. on November 9-11. On November 10th we will hold our 15th anniversary dinner in D.C.’s Union Station. This will be a special affair with leaders from FairVote’s history and high-profile supporters in attendance. Stay tuned for more details – and please save the date!

It’s been a terrific 15 years and an exciting spring. Here’s our July update.

Rob Richie
Executive Director

P.S. If you are a Working Assets customer for its credit card plan, cell phone plan, personal long distance plan or business long distance plan, please consider voting for FairVote in the coming weeks with all or at least many of your points. Also, if you are a federal worker or know federal workers, FairVote is again part of the Combined Federal Campaign (#10132).

‘Upgrade Democracy’ Video Contest!

FairVote is holding an exciting competition to spread the word of electoral reform and provide a creative outlet for people to express how they would like to improve our politics. In our Upgrade Democracy Video Contest, we invite people to create a short digital video answering the question, “If you could change anything you wanted about elections, what would our democracy look like?”

Entries will be posted to YouTube. A panel of celebrity judges and the general public will evaluate the nominated videos, cash prizes will be awarded, and the winner will be honored at our anniversary dinner in November. Help spread the word! More information at: www.upgradedemocracy.com

Innovative Analysis – Each Week, a New Take on an Old System

Every week, our new Innovative Analysis series provides a fresh take on American politics. We have used New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s rumored presidential bid to look at how the current presidential system – one that could be changed by statute – is vulnerable to mass confusion, thanks to the Electoral College and plurality voting rules – but how the Electoral College presents no special barrier to third parties (see FairVote’s “Perot Simulator”). We also used the vote in the Senate on immigration bill to show the power of political geography in influencing legislators’ votes.

Sign up for Innovative Analysis by sending a note to communications director Paul Fidalgo at communications (at) fairvote.org.


FairVote is intensifying its efforts to reform an increasingly dysfunctional presidential nomination schedule, recently rolling out FixThePrimaries.com. With all the different reform proposals to the problems of frontloading and the possibility of a de facto national primary in 2008, one thing is certain -- there is no coherent policy for how to organize presidential nominations.

There should be. We seek to raise awareness of the problem and draw reformers together to eventually unite around a solution. Our ultimate goal is formation of a national commission that can help the parties coordinate reform steps so that we have a sane process by 2012. Primary schedule reform will work best if the major parties work together. Presidential Elections Reform program director Ryan O’Donnell will soon have an oped on our plans in a major California paper.

Analysis Spotlight: The Earlier Primaries - Has Anything Changed?

Claims that California may be the “new New Hampshire” after moving its primary date to early February may be premature, according to new analysis by FairVote’s summer intern Laura Kirshner. Using data on candidate visits to states for fundraisers and campaign events, it's crystal clear where the action is, particularly when it comes to visits that aren’t about money -- Iowa and New Hampshire. Old habits die hard.

[Visit the FairVote Blog's Campaign by Numbers]

National Popular Vote Update

The National Popular Vote bill now has 348 sponsors in 47 states for the 2007 state legislative sessions, it has passed 11 legislative chambers and is the law in our home state of Maryland. FairVote North Carolina Director Torrey Dixon is building impressive grassroots support and organizational endorsements for the proposal after its passage by the North Carolina state Senate.

[Read WSOC News: Movement Started To Take Over Electoral College]
[More information at: www.nationalpopularvote.com ]

In the Raleigh News and Observer, Political Science professor, Clyde Frazier, makes a strong case in favor of the national popular vote plan. Read more [HERE].

IRV Makes Key Progress, Garners Support

Thanks to Californians for Electoral Reform, [www.cfer.org], ranked choice voting bills, AB 1294 and AB 1662, have passed the Assembly and the state Senate Elections Committee. AB 1294 would allow all localities the option to use instant runoff voting and choice voting, while AB 1662 would protect the voting rights of overseas voters, like members of the armed forces in war zones, through ranked ballots in elections with runoffs.

Cary (NC), a city of 110,000, will use IRV to elect its mayor and city council in October (see caryvotes123.com). Sarasota (FL) will vote on IRV in November, while St. Paul (MN), Los Angeles (CA) and Aspen (CO) are among several cities taking big strides to vote on IRV. We expect at least one viable statewide ballot measure in 2008.

Two states have launched task forces to study advanced voting methods. Led by Rep. John Kefalas, Colorado lawmakers are studying proportional voting and instant runoff voting. Composed of legislators from both major parties, election administrators and civic leaders, the commission expects to make its recommendations by November. Meanwhile, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has created the Ranked Choice Voting Issues Group to help cities like Minneapolis implement choice voting and IRV.

On the communications side, there have been some terrific editorials and commentaries on IRV this year, including a ringing endorsement from USA Today. See articles and commentaries on IRV [HERE]. See also the newly redesigned instantrunoff.com and our new site includeeveryvoter.org for information on using IRV for overseas voters in runoffs.

Proportional Voting News

Encouraged by the mayor, FairVote has filed an amicus brief supporting proportional voting in United States v. Village of Port Chester, a voting rights suit alleging winner-take-all elections have kept the New York city suburb’s 46% Latino population from winning fair representation. You can read the brief [HERE].

Auguring the bi-annual release of our flagship reports on congressional elections, FairVote guest-blogged [HERE] in The Hill's Congress Blog on the "monopoly politics" of U.S. Senate elections.

Internationally, Canada’s biggest province of Ontario will vote this October on a potentially historic measure to implement proportional voting, based on a citizens’ assembly recommendation. See more at: http://www.voteyesformmp.ca/

New leaders in Europe’s last winner-take-all holdouts, Great Britain and France, both are showing interest in proportional voting. British prime minister Gordon Brown has stated his support for proportional voting for seats in the House of Lords and is intimating openness for changing plurality voting for the House of Commons. Both France’s new president Nikolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon have expressed support for at least some parliamentary seats elected by proportional voting.

Florida Highlights Advance Registration Victories

Two state legislatures have passed bills allowing 16-year-olds to advance-register to vote. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill setting the voter registration age at 17, and allowing those signing up for a driver's license to register to vote; the new law also encourages young people to work at the polls on Election Day. In Rhode Island, the legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill setting a uniform advance registration age of 16, and FairVote’s Paul Fidalgo had a strong commentary in the Providence Journal. The governor vetoed the bill, but the legislature seems to have the votes from legislators of both major parties for an override. If you’re from Rhode Island, please contact our Right to Vote Initiative’s Adam Fogel to learn how to help – rtv (at) fairvote.org.

[Read our "Connecting young people with democracy" – Op-ed in the Providence Journal]

DC Voting Rights Act Update

Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Orin Hatch (R-Utah) have introduced the DC Voting Rights Act of 2007 in the Senate to provide the District of Columbia with a voting member in the House of Representatives. The bill has passed through committee and is now up for consideration in the full Senate. Help the DC Vote (www.dcvote.org) coalition correct this injustice today: contact your Senator to tell them you support the DC Voting Rights Act of 2007.

John Anderson, Media Star

The news of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s exit from the Republican Party sparked a lot of talk in the media about the prospects of a strong independent presidential candidacy, and they knew which man to turn to: 1980 independent and FairVote chairman John Anderson. Congressman Anderson has been interviewed for ABC’s Nightline, The National Journal, and Philadelphia Daily News, among others. He also spoke at the unveiling of the nifty new The Redistricting Game on Capitol Hill with Rep. Jim Tanner, and offered his insight on the importance of taking partisan calculations out of the process of drawing congressional districts. Read more about John Anderson [HERE].

FairVote Summer Interns: Volunteers for Democracy

FairVote has been extremely fortunate to have brilliant and dedicated crew of 16 volunteer interns helping the cause of electoral reform throughout the summer. Working closely with FairVote staff on all areas of focus, our interns are writing, researching, and taking an active role in pursuing the goals of the organization. Applications are being accepted for internships this fall and winter. Find out how to apply [HERE].

Also, check out some of the excellent blog posts by interns, covering the latest developments in election reform at http://archive.fairvote.org/blog

New Staff, New Jobs

FairVote welcomes several new staffers Diane Russell (IRV America), Ross Margulies (development), Paul Fidalgo (communications) and Torrey Dixon (FairVote NC) and thanks a terrific crew of staffers who all will be entering graduate school programs this fall: Ryan Griffin (IRV America), Jack Santucci (Program for Representative Government), Moni Talukdar (Voting and Democracy Research Center) and Christina Bernard (development).

We have new job openings as well, including one position in North Carolina. Visit our job opportunities page [HERE].

New Democracy Innovation Brochure Series

FairVote has launched the Democracy Innovation brochure series to highlight electoral reform policies ready for your state and community. You can request copies from info (at) fairvote.org and view them on-line [HERE].

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