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2019 Champions of Democracy

Organizer: FairVote

You're invited to join us in Washington, DC for a special awards ceremony to celebrate our successes this year and raise awareness about our reforms. We need to bring ranked choice voting and fair representation system to more cities and states across the country and, ultimately, to Congress. Join us as we honor genuine heroes with our 2019 Champion of Democracy Awards.

Location: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2168, 45 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC

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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What Is Approval Voting?

Approval voting (not to be confused with ranked choice) shows strength in St. Louis

Supporters of changing the way St. Louis conducts elections are excited by new poll results showing support for so-called approval voting.

Nearly three-quarters of voters surveyed said they would back changing the municipal election system so people could choose as many candidates for each office as they'd like in the first round of voting — with the two named on the most ballots advancing to a runoff.

Advocates of approval voting are gathering signatures in hopes of getting a referendum on the ballot next year. If approved, Missouri's second-biggest city would be the biggest jurisdiction in the country to switch to the system, which is different from the newly ascendant ranked-choice voting.

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Big Picture

8 places where democracy reform faces the voters on Tuesday

Last year was a really good year for placing democracy reform in the hands of the electorate. This year, not so much.

In the 2018 midterms, ballot proposals adopted in more than a dozen states and cities expanded the use of automatic voter registration, independent redistricting commissions, public financing of campaigns and other democracy reform proposals.

Next week's off-year election will see only a small roster of contests with an expansion of democracy itself on the ballot, and most have relatively narrow scope and limited reach.

But good-government advocates hope a wave of victories creates momentum for a more ambitious roster of proposals to get spots on the ballot alongside the 2020 presidential election.

And while the roster of pro-democracy choices may be limited this Nov. 5, the overall number of direct-democracy opportunities is large. Not since 2007 have so many ballot measures (three dozen) gone before voters in an odd-numbered year, according to Ballotpedia.

Below are the eight items on the ballot next week that good-government advocates are watching most intently — listed alphabetically by where the voting will take place. Four are initiatives in big cities and two are statewide referenda. The others are partisan elections for offices where the future of a reliable and relatable democracy is part of what's in the offing.

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