FairVote's Democracy Fellowship Program

Get Hands-On Experience Improving our Democracy

FairVote is one of our nation's leading democracy organizations, with a unique focus on bold, cutting-edge electoral reforms. Each year we seek applicants for full-time, salaried Democracy Fellow positions to work for eleven months from September through July of the following year.

Applications for democracy fellowships in 2016-2017 are due on March 11, 2016. We selected eight fellows for 2014-2015. A total of ten fellows were selected in the two preceding classes (including four legal), with a majority moving into staff positions. The application period for 2015-2016 fellowships has closed.

FairVote (www.fairvote.org) works to upgrade outmoded electoral rules and practices to provide a secure, meaningful, and effective vote for all Americans. With strong support from high-profile board members, interns, and a national network of volunteers and allies, our hard-working and energetic staff advances our mission of achieving respect for every vote and every voice through such reforms as: instant runoff voting, universal voter registration, fair representation voting (American forms of proportional voting), a constitutional right to vote, and a national popular vote for president. Our office is conveniently located in historic Old Town Takoma Park, two blocks from the Washington, D.C. Takoma Metro Station (red line).

About FairVote's Democracy Fellowship Program

FairVote's Democracy Fellowship Program provides an opportunity for those with an interest in election reform to work on substantive projects while building valuable skills and networking with others in the field. Fellows will be assigned projects to manage throughout their tenures, and will also assist with the supervision of FairVote interns. They will be exposed to the broad workings of FairVote, ranging from research, communications and advocacy, to building websites, blogging, and representing FairVote in coalition meetings and on Capitol Hill. 

The positions are paid, with healthcare benefits and a stipend for commuting expenses. Fellows will be given opportunities to build their skills and knowledge base both through on-the-job training and opportunities to attend workshops and seminars. Nearly every graduate of FairVote's Fellowship Program has either continued at FairVote as a full-time staff member, begun work at another public interest organization, or attended graduate school.

Examples of Past Democracy Fellow Work

Examples of past Democracy Fellow duties include

  • Legal: This fellow worked closely with executive director Rob Richie, legal allies, and legal interns on a range of projects relating to the laws of voting rights and voting systems. Projects include collaborating on amicus briefs, drafting legislation, and analyzing polices.
  • Advocacy: This fellow worked closely with FairVote Action, FairVote's advocacy partner. Responsibilities include research, communications, outreach and advocacy both through meeting with elected officials and through grassroots electoral reform. Focus can be on the National Popular Vote plan for president, voter pre-registration, proportional voting and instant runoff voting or on our new FairVote Action website.
  • Research: This fellow worked closely with executive director Rob Richie, research interns, and electoral reform allies to analyze current electoral structures and propose fair alternatives and disseminate findings and proposals through various media including blog posts, handouts, and editorials. Projects include analyzing election results, creating proportional voting plans, preparing reports, and contributing to blog.


Democracy Fellows work full-time for an eleven-month period from September through July with the potential opportunity to join our staff at the completion of the fellowship. Compensation is subsistence level for the DC area (currently projected as an annual salary of $32,000), along with health and dental benefits, vacation days, commuting reimbursement, moving costs, and weekly office lunches.


FairVote staff are committed to transforming American democracy to respect for every vote and every voice. The office environment is informal, but focused on making a difference. We seek an applicant eager to work in such an environment, and, ideally, with some of the following skills:

  • Experience or interest working or volunteering in a nonprofit, political, or policy organization
  • Professional or volunteer experience relating to voting or education
  • Strong public speaking, writing, and research skills
  • Ability to work well in a team environment, both as employee and supervisor
  • Strong listener, with an attention to detail and ability to self-organize
  • Ability to adapt quickly to changes in the workplace and ask questions when needed
  • Ability to become fluent in new subjects and projects quickly
  • Sense of humor and passion for voting reform

FairVote is an equal opportunity employer. We encourage women, people of color, and reformers from all backgrounds and political affiliations to apply.

How to Apply

Resume, cover letter, writing samples (one of which reflects your skills writing for a popular audience) and two names of references required. In your cover letter, please explain why you want to be a Democracy Fellow and what skills you hope to gain from the experience. Please feel encouraged to express interest in any particular project or issue within FairVote's mission and work. Please send materials to hr@fairvote.org. Applications for fellowships starting in September 2016 are due by March 11, 2016, but may be sent at any time. Note: The application period of 2015-2016 fellowships has closed.