Does political reform matter at a time like this?
Let’s start this week from a vulnerable place: Why is electoral reform important?
Why does the work that we do matter so much — especially when Americans are concerned about so many other things in the world, such as “kitchen-table issues” that consistently top the public’s priorities in poll after poll?
Electoral reform is about updating and modernizing our institutions. It’s about fixing what’s broken and corrupt, and making sure that the choices and decisions made by our government continue to reflect the will of the people.
That probably all sounds nice to … well, just about everybody. But why the urgency? How does it connect to the average American?
Think of it this way: When we let our political system go unexamined for too long, it begins to warp, and curve, and degrade, just like a wooden plank left out in the elements, until it’s no longer capable of doing the job it was created to do. In the case of that wooden plank, it’s to be the foundation of our politics — the ability to support and represent the vast majority of us.
If you’re part of the majority of Americans who are dissatisfied with how the government is working — the chances are good that you are — then you should care about fixing the country’s politics. Those politics are ultimately responsible for producing warped outcomes in the first place — the outcomes that drive Americans’ dissatisfaction.
Here are three things to think about this week.
Ohio and Indiana headed to the polls yesterday to vote in their primaries for the upcoming 2022 midterms. In Ohio (a swing state), 12 of 15 races were considered “safe” for one party or the other. In other words, yesterday’s primary was the deciding election for 80% of the state’s congressional representation. And if 2020 patterns maintain, just a fraction of Ohio voters will end up having a say.
Check out our new blog at PrimaryProblem.us that breaks down Ohio’s Primary Problem. Ohio’s primaries have become particularly ugly affairs over the last few years, as the Primary Problem empowers just 6% of Ohioans to effectively determine over 94% of the state’s House delegation. With millions of independent voters sidelined due to the state’s primary process, the importance of fixing the Primary Problem is clear — we’re just trying to make more people aware of it.
- Attacks on reform in Florida and Tennessee
Ranked choice voting is one of the fastest growing reforms in the U.S. Recent expansions in New York City and across Utah have proven to be overwhelmingly positive, with voters valuing the experience to have their voices heard. So popular is the reform that it’s beginning to draw opposition from elected officials who fear having the status quo overturned.
As activists and reformers across Tennessee and Florida have galvanized voters, some lawmakers have refused to acknowledge the needed updates to our system and managed to pass bans on ranked choice voting in their states. As Reason argues, politicians have much to gain on a divided electorate, and much to lose on a divided one. Momentum for the reform continues across the country, however. These setbacks are only temporary.
As Alaska gears up for its first ever nonpartisan primary with a ranked choice voting general election, other states are noticing. In the Nevada Independent, Michael Schaus writes about how Nevadans seem to support ranked choice voting and primary reform as a way out of the toxic partisanship.
In Nevada, a state where non-major party voters are the single largest voting bloc, the need for an election system that represents them all is critically important. Increasingly, voters are feeling abandoned by the two-party duopoly, and a reform similar to the one Alaska adopted could be just the ticket. Read the full piece here.