Three Things Thursday for Unite America
Across the country, legislators are messing with elections. In some cases, it’s been for the better; in Kentucky, they’ve expanded early voting, while Vermont has adopted vote at home elections. But in many cases, it’s been for the worse. Legislators in states like Georgia and Illinois are increasingly trying to tip the scales of elections in their favor.
On the federal level, legislators are debating a slew of voting policies. Given the divisions in the Senate, it’s likely if a bill does pass, it will do so on strict partisan lines. It’s a dangerous game; at a time when Americans need more trust in their elections, a partisan bill may only undercut Americans’ faith.
Bipartisan compromise on election integrity is possible — just look at states like Kentucky and Vermont. Our elections are too important to play politics with.
Here are three things to think about this week:
Last week, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), along with Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Angus King (I-ME) introduced the Voter Choice Act, a bill that would provide $40 million in federal grants to cover up to 50 percent of the cost for local and state governments that choose to adopt ranked choice voting. The bill is a major boost for ranked choice voting, which has been rapidly adopted by municipalities around the country.
This November will be a major demonstration for ranked choice voting, with 30 cities using RCV for elections, and five cities voting whether to adopt the reform. Maine became the first state to adopt RCV when voters approved the measure in 2016, and Alaska became the second, adopting RCV last year. The momentum around RCV is quickly growing; the Voter Choice Act is a major example of that. Read more about the bill here.
This week, Politico takes a look at Illinois, where Democrats — with strong majorities in the state — are working amongst themselves to determine how much to gerrymander. Under the latest plan, 14 of 17 seats would be held by Democrats, leaving Republicans in the state just 3 seats.
With meandering districts that stretch from one side of the state to the other, the map is an example of just how far the political parties will go to protect themselves. Lost is any discussion about voters, or what would best serve them. With safe seats, voters lose the ability to consider real choice when casting their ballot. It’s politicians choosing their voters, plain and simple.
Our elections aren’t the only institution in need of reform; Congress needs to reform itself too. As recent debates over the debt limit have shown us, Congress has become a woefully out of date institution, with rules and regulations that make the very act of governing highly inefficient.
This week, our friend Kevin Kosar, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writes for the Hill about how truly out of convoluted the process of lawmaking has become in Congress. While reforming our elections can dramatically transform who elected leaders are serving, reforming Congress can transform elected leaders’ ability to get things done. Read his piece here.