Reforming Albany

By Rob Richie
Published July 2nd 2009 in New York Times
To the Editor:

Re “New York’s Defective Legislators” (editorial, July 2):

Your sensible reform suggestions would modernize New York state government, but it’s time to bring the state into the 21st century, not just the 20th.

The notion of winner-take-all, single-member legislative districts is based on a horse-and-buggy, geography-dominated concept of representation that simply no longer fits our country. Voters should have competitive choices and the power to change their representation no matter where they live. Enactment of every one of your reform proposals would still leave a majority of voters without this power.

What the times demand are proportional voting systems that make every vote count and allow shared representation in a given area. We have plenty of models to consider, including nearly every modern democracy in the world that has rejected our antiquated approach to representation.

Rob Richie
Executive Director, FairVote
Takoma Park, Md., July 2, 2009

IRV Soars in Twin Cities, FairVote Corrects the Pundits on Meaning of Election Night '09
Election Day '09 was a roller-coaster for election reformers.  Instant runoff voting had a great night in Minnesota, where St. Paul voters chose to implement IRV for its city elections, and Minneapolis voters used IRV for the first time—with local media touting it as a big success. As the Star-Tribune noted in endorsing IRV for St. Paul, Tuesday’s elections give the Twin Cities a chance to show the whole state of Minnesota the benefits of adopting IRV. There were disappointments in Lowell and Pierce County too, but high-profile multi-candidate races in New Jersey and New York keep policymakers focused on ways to reform elections;  the Baltimore Sun and Miami Herald were among many newspapers publishing commentary from FairVote board member and former presidential candidate John Anderson on how IRV can mitigate the problems of plurality elections.

And as pundits try to make hay out of the national implications of Tuesday’s gubernatorial elections, Rob Richie in the Huffington Post concludes that the gubernatorial elections have little bearing on federal elections.