FairVote advocates for policies to improve our elections at both a state and national level. Here is a summary of legislation introduced in the 2011-2012 legislative cycle that relates most directly to FairVote reform priorities:
Federal Legislation: FairVote focuses most of its attention on electoral reform in states and local jurisdictions, but supports several important pieces of federal legislation involving redistricting, proportional voting, presidential elections and a constitutional right to vote.
National Popular Vote Plan Legislation: States have plenary power over how to allocate electoral votes in their state – a power they have frequently exercised over the years. The national popular vote plan (NPV) is legislation to guarantee election of the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Once enacted by enough states, NPV will govern our next presidential election. It will ensure every vote is equal no matter where it is cast (no more talk of “swing states” and “safe states”) and will always elect the candidate with the most popular votes. Going into 2011, NPV has become law in six states and the District of Columbia, and bills have been introduced in all remaining states.
Instant Runoff Voting Legislation: Majority rule and meaningful voter choice are marks of a functioning democracy. To facilitate a full range of choices in high-turnout elections that protect the will of the majority, FairVote encourages understanding, adoption and effective implementation of instant runoff voting (IRV), a ranked choice voting system used in a growing number of American elections. Going in to 2011, more than a dozen cities have adopted IRV, and three states have passed laws advancing it.
Voter Pre-Registration: FairVote proposes that states establish a uniform initial voter registration age of 16. These advance-registered voters would be automatically added to the active voting rolls upon reaching voting age. Ideally, they would also be sent information about the mechanics of voting and the timing of the first election for which they are eligible. Evidence collected from different states suggests this change has little to no fiscal impact. Going into 2011, six states and the District of Columbia have adopted 16-yaer-old pre-registration and several other states have adopted 17-year-old pre-registration.
Automatic/Universal Registration: Universal voter registration is the goal of ensuring that all eligible voters are registered to vote, and only registered once. That goal is encouraged by modernizing voter registration systems, including policies that automatically registers eligible citizens to vote. Instead of contending with the confusing and potentially fraudulent current system, (which often leaves voter registration to private voter registration organizations and political parties), a new automatic process can eliminate the haphazard complexity of voter rolls while increasing opportunities for participation.
Redistricting Reform/ Alternatives to Winner-Take-All: FairVote challenges our nation's reliance upon winner-take-all elections and single member districts for Congressional and most state legislative elections. We also should have national standards to prevent partisan gerrymandering and give states and localities the right to use proportional voting methods. Going into 2011, several states have improved redistricting and/or allow their cities to use proportional voting.
Guaranteeing all US Senators are elected (vacancy election bills): Though the 17th Amendment to the Constitution requires election of all senators, it also gives states the option to fill vacancies by gubernatorial appointment, and no federal mechanism exists to guarantee that all U.S. Senators are elected (unlike U.S. House Members that must be elected). Since the passage of the 17th amendment in 1913, almost a quarter of all U.S. Senators who have ever served were originally appointed. During the 2009-2010 Congress, more than a quarter of the U.S. population was represented by appointed senator.
Improve Recount Laws: Too many states lack comprehensive recount laws that uphold election integrity while discouraging expensive and time-consuming recounts. FairVote this year issued recommendations based on its comprehensive review of statewide recounts since 2000.
Other Notable Legislation: Other areas relating to FairVote's advocacy, analysis and research.