Voting and Elections Summit 2015 Overview

by Rebecca Hellmich // Published February 18, 2015
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Voting and Elections Summit 2015: Overview and Video Links

The ninth annual Voting and Elections Summit was held on February 5th and 6th. FairVote was pleased to cosponsor this year’s conference, and helped arrange speakers, hold workshops and organize one of the major plenary sessions. The event showcased a great array of speakers/presenters, and produced lively, informative discussions. Here is an overview of the various sessions/workshops, with links to videos of key segments. 

Day 1



Congressman Keith Ellison kicked off the first day of the Summit with a Keynote speech that highlighted his support for a right to vote amendment in the U.S. Constitution and  statutory electoral reforms like ranked choice voting. “If people are fighting to keep us from voting,” Ellison stated, “we need to fight to keep our vote.”


Krist and Mike

FairVote held an afternoon session called “Making 227 Million Votes Count in Every Election.” Our speakers featured an introduction to each of the core proposals of our Reform 2020 agenda, including a right to vote amendment, National Popular Vote plan for president, ranked choice voting and fair representation for Congress and lively two-person “democracy dialogues”. 



Below are links to each of the FairVote segments, with short descriptions.

Featured panels:

Valerie Irvine John Fortier


Electoral Reform and the Presidential Commission on Election Administration

 In this panel, Valerie Irvine, executive director of Center for Working Families, and John Fortier, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Democracy Project, discussed electoral reform, specifically how to address it using the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. 



Krist and Mike other


Opening Up the Ballot and Fair Representation Elections

In this panel, Krist Novoselic, chair of FairVote’s Board of Directors and Michael Lind, policy director of the New America Foundation’ Economic Growth Program, discussed what drew them to FairVote’s reforms, and explored the potential of proportional representation as an election reform.



Dave and jeanne z drive


Ranked Choice Voting from the Political Left, Right and Center

In this panel, Dave Meslin, founder of Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto, and Jeanne Massey, executive director of FairVote Minnesota, addressed ranked choice voting as an electoral reform solution, and explored the benefits that the system can bring to campaigns/elections.



Cindy and Michele Jawando Z drive


How to Make Our Elected Leaders More Representative of Women, Racial Minorities and Our Full Diversity

In this panel, Cynthia Terrell, director of FairVote’s Representation 2020 program, spoke with Michele Jawando, vice president for Legal Progress at the Center for American Progress, about how to leverage electoral reforms so that they produce governments with diverse representation.



Jamie and Josh Silver z drive


Building a Pro-democracy Movement

In this panel, Jamie Raskin,  a state senator from Maryland and professor at Washington College of Law, discussed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and how it can be used to fix presidential elections with Josh Silver, director of Represent.US.




“Bridge” presentations by FairVote staff:

dania other




     Dania Korkor, Constitutional Right to Vote







Drew z drive




Drew Spencer, Fair Representation











Grace RCV z drive






Grace Ramsey, Ranked Choice Voting








amaris z drive




Amaris Montes, Representation 2020 Program










claire z drive





Claire Daviss, National Popular Vote









The day had other strong presentations and panels.

Welcome from US Vote Foundation’s Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat 

US Vote Foundation Session Day 1

US Vote Foundation also held a morning session entitled “Breakthrough Ideas - The Promise of Tech and Innovation to Engage Voters.” Speakers explored emerging voting technologies that ranged from POPVOX to internet voting/security. Additionally, there were four, two minute “bridge” presentations between each discussion.

To see videos for all this session’s presentations click here.

Lawyers Comm Roundtable Day 1


The Lawyers Committee held a session on engaging and protecting the American voter called “Talk Voting to Me,” which featured a roundtable discussion.

To see videos for all this session’s presentations click here



For full list of speakers, go to this link



Vanessa Cardenas, Vice President of Progress 2050, Center for American Progress delivered the afternoon Keynote address, in which she discussed America’s changing demographics and the impact that would have on voting in the future. 




overseas vote foundation roundtable day 1

The Overseas Vote Foundation concluded the first day with a session entitled “Focus on Overseas and Military Voting.” Speakers, including FairVote’s Rob Richie, explored the challenges that overseas and military voters face, as well as potential solutions for addressing these challenges, like ranked choice voting.

To see videos for all this session’s presentations click here.


Day 2

The second day of the conference represented a great chance for people to roll up their sleeves and learn more about how to get involved. FairVote had one group engage in an all-day strategy session on ranked choice voting, and also sponsored two workshops.



Morning Workshops

FairVote: The Right to Vote: A Constitutional Right, A Local Opportunity

This workshop placed FairVote’s Promote Our Vote project in the spotlight. Breakout discussion period topics included engaging youth locally, expanding local access to the vote, and structural reforms. 



Lawyers’ Committee: Mind the Match: A look at how and why voter registration applications are rejected

Discussion for this workshop addressed the voter registration application process and what best practices might be utilized to protect voters more efficiently. Topics included the Help America’s Voters Act database matching requirements and online voting as a solution.

Overseas Vote Foundation: End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting: Promises, Capabilities, and Risks.

This workshop centered on state-of-the-art verifiable voting internet technology. Topics of discussion included impact on security, promises of the technology, and challenges/cost-effective solutions.



Afternoon Workshops

FairVote: Introduction to Structural Reform: Thinking Nationally, Acting in Your Community

 This workshop focused on FairVote’s fair representation voting plan and ranked choice voting as a feasible, necessary structural reform for the negative impacts inflicted by winner-take-all voting systems.  


Lawyers’ Committee: Creating Connections: How advocacy groups and election officials can work together to improve and administer elections

Discussions for this workshop addressed how advocacy groups and election officials can better collaborate to effectively improve election administration.

US Vote Foundation: "Appreciative Inquiry" Brainstorming Session on Civic Engagement

This workshop focused on historic voting moments and how best to learn from them to make elections/voting work better. Interactive brainstorming sessions were used for participants to reflect and create a list of best practices.