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No sports on TV? Here’s democracy bracketology (Voting Division)

Democracy reform is a really broad topic — with many more ideas for fixing the system than the long list of reasons why Americans say the government's not working for them.

So which is the most transformative proposal for ending the dysfunction and putting voters back at the center of things? Since you may have more time to think during this season of social distancing, it seems a good time to ask: If you had to pick a single reform, what would it be?

We're calling this Democracy Madness.

The NCAA tournament never happened, baseball hasn't started and pro basketball and hockey are in limbo. But we all love competition, so we've seeded 64 proposals and divided them among four topical "regions."

We'll tackle a quarter of the draw at a time. Your votes on voting reforms today and tomorrow will turn the top 16 ideas into eight — two days later we'll be down to four, and so on. (Future brackets will contest ideas for reforming campaign finance, elections, civic life and Congress.)

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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When Nevada held its primary in February, voters were allowed to cast ballots early and rank their preferred candidates.

Why ranked-choice voting should be a part of the coronavirus elections fix

Richie is president and Daley a senior fellow at FairVote, a nonpartisan electoral reform group that promotes ranked-choice voting. This month Daley published "Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy" (Liveright).

So much has changed in American life, and so quickly, that it's hard to believe it's been just four weeks since former Vice President Joe Biden shocked Sen. Bernie Sanders with a rout on Super Tuesday.

A race that had been unsettled for months, seemingly bound for a brokered convention, shifted decisively in Biden's direction over the course of just 72 hours. Several competitors exited the race and offered their endorsements, strong performances across the South gave him a large delegate lead and then Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren gave up as well.

Imagine for a moment that it hadn't worked out that way. Imagine Tom Steyer got closer to Biden in South Carolina, and Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar pressed on. Suppose Bloomberg's early momentum continued and it was only Warren who dropped out, prompting progressives to consolidate behind Sanders against a still-fractured field.

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Many California voters cast their ballots in advance of the Super Tuesday primary on March 3. Hundreds of thousands of those ballots supported candidates who withdrawn by primary day.

1.6 million votes 'wasted' on Democratic also-rans so far. Would RCV help?

The growth in early voting has exploded in recent years with more opportunities to cast ballots in person or by mail, and thereby avoid lines on Election Day.

But a downside to the convenience has been exposed by this year's Democratic presidential contest, where an ocean of votes have been cast for candidates who dropped out by the time primary day arrived.

FairVote, a nonpartisan group that champions ranked-choice voting, is highlighting these "wasted" or "lost" votes — saying most of them would not really be squandered if the alternative election method was embraced, allowing Democrats to signal support for several candidates including the two who remain viable.

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People who voted early or by mail in Super Tuesday states were unable to change their ballots after Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out. If RCV had been in place, those ballots wouldn't have been wasted, writes Tyler Fisher.

The reform that could have saved a million ballots

Fisher is deputy director of reforms and partnerships at Unite America, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to "enacting structural political reforms and electing candidates who put people over party."

More than 1 million ballots were spoiled on candidates who had already left the presidential race when 14 states voted on Super Tuesday. Three major candidates had ended their bids following the South Carolina primary that was held three days earlier — but early voters and those participating by mail had no way to change their vote in most states.

In-person early voting and vote by mail are common sense reforms that increase voter turnout, especially in primary elections; we encourage these types of reforms that expand the electorate by reducing barriers to participation -- but we can make the system better.

The answer is a simple change to how we vote: ranked-choice voting.

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