Changing the Way We Vote: Rob Richie

Gerrymandering, low turnout elections, negative campaign ads, and increased polarization are all part of the flawed, fractured U.S. political system. Here we examine the case for constructive changes to how candidates for public office are elected.

Our guest, Rob Richie, has been the leader of the non-profit advocacy group, FairVote, since co-founding the organization in 1992. He has been involved in helping to develop and implement: Ranked Choice Voting in several states and more than 20 cities, fair representation voting systems in numerous states, Voting Rights Act cases, the National Popular Vote plan in 16 states, and voter access proposals like voter preregistration and automatic voter registration.

"We're in a winner-take-all environment and it's incredibly tense," Rob tells us. The current voting system allows for only one choice, which can add to bitterness and deep division. "Ranked Choice Voting gives the voter a chance not only to just put an X next to one candidate but to make a series of choices."

This fundamental reform is attracting growing support among Democrats, Republicans, and independents. In 2021 it was used for the first time to pick the Mayor of New York and the Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. Numerous cities and more states are considering Ranked Choice Voting. 

The vast majority of Americans live in landslide districts. Rob is also calling for multi-member congressional districts. Both reforms, he writes, would lead to "a more representative and functional congress" that would "regain legitimacy" with voters. 

Recommendation. Jim is listening to journalist Andrew Sullivan's podcast, "Dishcast". Jim calls Sullivan "a consistently interesting, provocative thinker", who has great free-ranging conversations on his show.

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