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Abracadabra…pass election reformsus! 🪄

Three things to think about this April 6th

Alana Persson
Digital Marketing Associate
April 6, 2023

Recently, a few team members here at Unite America HQ contemplated the question: “If you had a magic wand, how would you improve our politics?” It should come as no surprise that our collective answer was: We would use our powers to pass sweeping election reforms that give voters more voice and choice. If only it were as easy as saying abracadabra to make these hopes come true.

The good news is that real headway is being made on these reforms without the assistance of magic, as nonpartisan primaries are being considered in several states across the country, including most recently in Montana, where Top-Two passed the first legislative chamber this week. Perhaps the most magical part of election reform, so to speak, is that there isn’t merely one way to put country over party and get to the outcomes we’re looking to achieve.

1. The Denver mayoral race makes a case for ranked choice voting  

Voters in the Mile High City took to the polls on Tuesday to determine who would become the city's next mayor. The problem…a winner wasn’t decided. Why? Because voters were faced with an insane number of candidates to choose from…we’re talking enough to fill half a city bus! The result? Yep, you guessed it, an upcoming runoff election that is not only going to cost tax-payers a pretty penny, but is also likely to see extremely low voter turnout.

While this has undoubtedly been frustrating for Denver voters — and let's not forget costly — it’s presented the city with a tangible case for why election reforms, such as ranked choice voting, should be considered in future elections. As Kent Thiry, former CEO of DaVita, aptly wrote ahead of election day in a recent op-ed in The Colorado Sun:

“[T]he biggest impediment to participation this year may be the sheer number of candidates, and voters’ difficulty in selecting a single one to support. … That’s where ranked-choice voting [also known as instant-runoff voting] comes in.
This is so simple it makes an NCAA bracket look complicated. And it’s increasingly commonplace. Pew Research has identified more than 260 jurisdictions across the country that have adopted some form of ranked-choice voting to deliver candidates who appeal to a majority of voters. Imagine that: candidates who appeal to a majority of voters – it almost sounds like a democracy!”

So, while Thiry states that there’s “no magic bullet for solving the issues confronting Denver at the moment,” he highlights how simple and effective reforms can be implemented in the future to improve our elections.

2. Election reforms benefit every voter

Across the news, there’s been a buzz about election reforms, specifically about ranked choice voting (RCV), which we’ve highlighted in recent editions of this newsletter. And while there’s much positive coverage coming out about RCV, including calls for the RNC to embrace it, there are naturally some naysayers raising unfounded concerns with the reform. In many ways, it’s a good thing that feathers are ruffled, as it’s a clear indication that what we’re doing is working as it’s intended to: it’s giving power to the voters and taking it away from the parties.

However, let’s not allow the influx of coverage around RCV prevent us from acknowledging the progress made with nonpartisan Top-Two and Top-Four primaries, and Final-Five voting, as these reforms are all priorities of the Voters First movement. As a network of reformers, it’s important to remember that while RCV is a type of election reform, it is not the only election reform model that is garnering traction.

3. Nonpartisan reforms are best paired with nonpartisan news!

Last month, our team had the opportunity to speak with Isaac Saul, the creator of Tangle News — an independent, non-partisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter — to learn more about how his publication challenges the echo chambers of mainstream media coverage. Tangle takes an innovative approach to news coverage, as it tackles one considerable debate in American politics, summarizes the best arguments from the right, left, and center on that debate, and then shares it online for readers to enjoy. And as noted on their website, their approach is not "both sides-ism" Instead, they search the world for the best arguments about the day's debate and present them side-by-side so readers can decide what conclusion to make — and people are doing just that! As one reader wrote:

“As a right-leaning, Libertarian, Trump supporter, I catch myself only listening to ideas I want to believe. I find the Tangle arguments that lean left are well reasoned and thought out, allowing me to broaden my thought processes.” — Todd, Manchester, NH

Check out their website to learn more!