Making representatives representative
It’s hard to believe that it’s already mid-October. We’re just weeks away from a slew of elections happening across the country, from mayoral races, to state and local initiatives, to a much watched governor’s race happening in Virginia.
Five cities across the US will be debating whether to adopt ranked choice voting. 36 cities will be using ranked choice voting — the highest number ever. Meanwhile, in states like Virginia, Kentucky, and Nevada, voters will be taking advantage of new early voting options and mailed-ballot options.
November’s elections may be approaching under the radar, but that doesn’t mean there isn't a lot to be excited about. Here are three things to think about this week:
Within the legislative branch of our federal government, the House of Representatives is supposed to serve as a co-equal part of Congress. Yet over the last few weeks, as the Senate has been deep in discussion and debate around key bills, the House has been largely overlooked — in large part because the extreme polarization of the House has led to political theatre trumping actual policymaking. Instead of dealmaking, House members have been relegated to back benchers, with real decisions on legislation happening at the leadership level instead.
In The Atlantic, former Illinois representative Daniel Lipinski writes about how the relegation of the House is bad for democracy — and about how we can restore power. By adopting new rules and modernizing the House, empowering individual members with the support, staff, and time they need to create and debate legislation, we can restore power to the House. Reforms have already been suggested by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and House Modernization Committee. Check out Lipinski’s full piece here.
Finally, check out this story from Texas, where Michele Carew, a veteran election administrator in a Trump-friendly district has been pushed out of her job after facing relentless partisan accusations and election-rigging conspiracy theories. Instead of a professional and independent election administrator, some in her district want to see the election put in the hands of an elected, partisan official.
Carew is just one of dozens of election administrators across the country who have been fleeing their positions, as legislators threaten them with high penalties and even jail time for perceived interference. Nonpartisan professionals have been fleeing their roles in droves, leaving vacant key parts of American election infrastructure. Read the full story here.
Any guesses what reform it is? This week, professors David C.W. Parker and Kal Munis argue that to improve representation for Montanans, Montanans need to improve their elections — starting by adopting nonpartisan primaries and ranked choice voting.
If you’ve seen our Primary Problem video, you know the combination of reforms has the potential to put voters first by making sure their votes count in every election. In the words of Parker and Munis, nonpartisan primaries “can inject competition into primary elections, attract more voter participation, and force legislators to heed a wider array of voices and views at every stage of the electoral process.” Alaska has already adopted nonpartisan primaries and ranked choice voting. Will Montana be next?