Not one but two Cinderella teams have made it to the championship round of the Elections bracket in our reader-driven Democracy Madness contest.
Our No. 9 seed, the proposal to have fewer House seats but with several members elected from each congressional district, is taking on an even bigger underdog— No. 11, getting states to award their electoral votes to the national (not their own) winner of the presidential popular vote.
But which will be the belle of the ball?
Multimember districts had its biggest win of the tournament, over instituting term limits for Supreme Court justices. Meanwhile, the National Popular Vote Compact snuck past the No. 2 seed, creating independent commissions to draw legislative districts — the biggest upset of the tournament.
The finals last through Thursday, so press the Vote Now button to take your pick. (For more on the proposals, click the matchup, then each label.)
Sixteen proposals for reforming money in politics will get contested starting Monday. By the middle of May you will have chosen the single best of 64 ideas for fixing our democratic system.
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The first round of the Elections "regional" bracket is in the books, and there were quite a few upsets.
While our top three seeds in this quarter of our Democracy Madness draw made it through unscathed, there were four early upsets among the matchups of 16 proposals for restructuring and reforming election rules.
Our 13th-ranked idea, limiting the tenure of Supreme Court justices, took out the idea of expanding the fall presidential debates to more candidates, which we seeded No. 4. Now court term limits will have the chance to take down the No. 5 seed — having all-candidate primaries where the top two advance to November, regardless of party. If it prevails, it will be the lowest seed to make it to a regional Final Four.
Three other proposals bested higher-seeded ideas in the Elections first round: Having multi-member U.S. House districts, setting congressional term limits and minimizing the Electoral College's importance by switching to the so-called National Popular Vote Compact.
Second-round voting is open until Sunday. So don't forget to press the Vote Now button and make all four choices. You can also click the matchups, then each label, for more about the surviving proposals.
This competition is designed to learn what readers think is the single best of 64 ideas for reforming our governing systems and putting voters back at the center of things. (A reminder that No. 2 ranked-choice voting triumphed last week in our Voting region, which squared off first.)
This month we kicked off our Democracy Madness competition with the Voting "region," which ranked-choice voting won by rolling over competing proposals for bettering democracy by altering voting rules. Now we're one to the second region: Elections.
The aim here is to have some good-natured competitive fun — and also learning what readers think are the best ideas for reforming our governing systems and putting voters back at the center of things.
By the end of our 64-idea tournament in a few weeks, you will have told us what you think would be the single most transformational change.
Similar to the NCAA's March Madness, not every "team" fits the regional description perfectly.
But most of these 16 contenders are related to structural aspects of local, state and federal elections. The top seed is both a popular cause and a long-shot to actually happen — eliminating the Electoral College in favor of electing presidents by simple popular vote. You'll also find a couple of alternative ways to weaken the Electoral College without having to amend the Constitution.
The No. 2 seed is using independent commissions to draw electoral districts. This way of combating partisan gerrymandering comes into the tournament on a roll, having just won a big court victory in Michigan and going before Virginia's voters this fall after approval by the General Assembly.
The third seed is making primaries open to all voters ( a big issue in Florida right now). In the No. 4 slot is giving third-party and independent candidates a real shot at being in the fall presidential debates.
First-round voting closes Wednesday night, with an Elite Eight round kicking off Thursday morning.
You can click the matchups, then each label, for more about the proposals. Click the Vote Now button to get started.
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Virginia state lawmakers on Tuesday approved a package of bills to make it easier to register and vote in a state that will likely play a crucial role in deciding the outcome of November's election.
The legislation changes Election Day to a state holiday, allows for "no-excuse" absentee voting, establishes automatic voter registration and repeals a requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls. This would make Virginia the first state to repeal such a law.
Passing legislation to make it easier to vote fulfills the legislative promises of Democratic lawmakers who won control of the General Assembly last year and now control both the statehouse and governor's mansion for the first time since 1993.
The four bills are expected to be signed by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who has expressed support for legislation aimed at expanding access to the ballot box.
"We are one step closer to a more representative and inclusive Virginia," Northam said Tuesday in a statement.
Virginia was a reliably Republican state in presidential elections from 1952-2004 (with the exception of the Lyndon Johnson landslide in 1964). Democrats have won the last three elections, with Hillary Clinton edging Donald Trump by about 6 percentage points in 2016.
One elections-related bill that failed to advance Tuesday was a proposal for Virginia to join 16 other states that have signed on to the National Popular Vote Compact, an agreement whereby a participating state agrees to award its electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote. The compact goes in effect only after states that hold a majority of electoral votes have joined.
The proposal passed the state House two weeks ago but failed to advance Tuesday out of a Senate committee, which voted to reconsider the idea in 2021.
National Popular Vote, the advocacy group leading the popular vote movement, expressed disappointment but added a hint of optimism about the bill's chances next year.
"This wasn't the result we wanted but not terrible either," NPV tweeted following the vote. "The VA Senate committee vote postponed action until next January when we will get another chance to send the bill to the governor."
By January 2021, Virginia and other states that have joined or will be considering joining the compact will likely know whether the agreement is a legally viable way of sidestepping the Electoral College's grip on presidential elections. The 16 states that have passed the compact represent 196 electoral votes, or 74 votes short of the 270 needed to enact the interstate compact.
On April 28, the Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in Chiafalo v. State of Washington, a case to resolve the question of whether states can legally bind their presidential electors to vote for a particular candidate. Should the court decide that electors are free to cast a vote for whomever they choose, the ruling would essentially undermine the legitimacy of the compact since states would have no authority to enforce it.
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