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Election Reformers Network

Our Mission is to advance nonpartisan reforms addressing significant problems in U.S. democracy, in coordination with other reform organizations; and to strengthen the reform movement in the United States through the interjection of information on global best practices in democratic institution-building.

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Big Picture
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European election monitors meet with the president of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev, in 2013. The United States needs its own version of a monitoring organization, writes Larry Garber.

Proposing a commission of prominent Americans to monitor our elections

Garber has worked on overseas elections for 35 years and is on the board of the Election Reformers Network, a nonprofit founded by such international specialists now working to improve American electoral systems.

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Istvan Kadar Photography/Getty Images

Ranked-choice voting will now be used in the 2021 elections for mayor and city council in New York.

Ranked-choice voting backers eye momentum from NYC victory

Ranked-choice voting just made it big in the biggest town for making it — New York City. And supporters of this way of conducting elections hope to use the victory there to spread it, well, everywhere.

With more than 90 percent of the precincts reporting Wednesday morning, almost three-quarters of voters (73.5 percent) endorsed bringing ranked-choice voting to the nation's biggest city. The new system, which allows people to rank as many as five candidates in order of preference, will be used in primary and special elections beginning with the races in 2021 for mayor, city council and several other municipal offices.

Known as RCV and also the instant-runoff system, ranking candidates has become one of the big election-improvement darlings of the democracy reform movement.

Less sweeping measures for improving governance were on ballots in Maine, Kansas and Denver, and all of them succeeded.

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Balance of Power
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If the National Popular Vote initiative goes before the Supreme Court it will likely be blocked, writes Johnson, who lays out an alternative solution.

Making every vote count: An alternative plan for fixing our presidential election mess

Johnson is executive director of Election Reformers Network, an organization of election experts advancing nonpartisan reforms to U.S. democratic institutions.

With all eyes on the threats outsiders pose to the next presidential election, it seems we have forgotten the self-made dysfunction at the center of our democracy. Another presidential election approaches, with another victory to the popular vote loser a distinct possibility. Campaigns will again focus exclusively on a handful of states, and voting will be an inconsequential civic gesture for the vast majority. Other pitfalls lurk that we largely ignore, like another Florida-style recount or the decision getting "thrown to the House," which could give final say to the minority party.

A verdict Wednesday from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver may add another Jack-in-the-box element: electors free to vote as they choose, regardless of the results in their state. If the Supreme Court agrees that Colorado's removal of a faithless elector in 2016 was unconstitutional, a new level of uncertainty will pervade our presidential elections.

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A solution to these many problems, the National Popular Vote, has made considerable progress in blue states this year, but faces a long road. NPV needs to win enactment in purple states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and then survive this Supreme Court, where the majority seems to have little concern for the needs of our democracy, as the Rucho v. Common Cause decision illustrates. In the words of scholar Edward Foley, the majority "rejects the primacy of democracy as an organizing constitutional principle."

At least with stopping partisan gerrymandering, we have a fallback after the Supreme Court decided not to act: state level independent redistricting commissions. We have no such developed, viable alternative to NPV; Rucho makes clear it is time to start working on one.

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