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PSN on November 20, 2009 - 12:39pm
Election Reforms to Drive Turnout
Friday, November 20, 2009
Election Reforms to Drive Turnout
As part of our Shared Multi-State Agenda, the Progressive States Network is working with legislators, advocates and leading experts to promote election reforms that drive voter turnout in states across the country - just in time for the coming 2010 and 2012 election years. Through coordinated, strategic support, PSN and our allies will be working to introduce and advance election reform policies that increase voter turnout in as many states possible, providing model legislation, policy analysis, messaging and more - all of which has been gathered and will be constantly updated on our Shared Agenda Election Reform webpage. Legislators and advocates can contact us about participating and supporting Election Reform campaigns through our website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Election reforms are a crucial tool in building increased support for the broader progressive policy agenda. One of the largest impediments to real progressive reform is that our election system often excludes voters — non-white, less-educated, and less wealthy individuals — who are the most supportive of progressive policy changes. Expanding electoral participation to include a larger, more diverse set of voters will increase support for the host of progressive reforms that are supported by the substantial majority of the population whose voices are not always heard at the ballot box. Working state by state to remove barriers to voting and increase participation in the political process will be a fundamental determinant of how successful progressives will be in achieving the broader reforms we are working toward.
Summary of Election Reform Policies to Drive Turnout and Why They Matter
Voters should be given every opportunity to participate in our elections and be apart of a system that assures every voice is heard and every vote is meaningful. As part of our Shared Multi-State Agenda, the Progressive States Network is working to promote three election reforms that further these goals in states across the country: National Popular Vote, Vote by Mail and National Voter Registration Act Compliance. Each addresses a different layer of our electoral bureaucracy - the presidential election process, the options for casting a ballot, and the process of registering voters.
Why These Policies Matter: The last two election cycles have seen progressives win impressive victories across the country. However, these gains remain tenuous in many areas, and progressives must be prepared for history to repeat itself and bring a challenging election in 2010, especially at the state level. Adding to the urgency is the fact that the results of the next election will determine who controls redistricting in each state. Given this state of affairs, measures that can help bolster turnout will be crucial to maintain the enthusiasm voters demonstrated in 2008, which will likely be a prerequisite for continued success nationally and in the states. Each of the three reforms in our election agenda have been embraced by voters and elected officials in several states.
Messaging Election Reforms to Drive Turnout
Election reforms are an essential aspect of achieving the fundamental progressive goal of an inclusive society where every person is able to participate in shaping their community into the place they want it to be. Without broad and unhindered access to electoral participation, minorities, the poor and other groups that lack political power in proportion to their numbers will continue to be marginalized in our society. For these reasons, progressives can speak strongly in favor of voting reforms as a important tool in achieving a just society, and as policies central to achieving the range of our shared goals including health care reform, fair tax policy, and living wages for all workers.
National Popular Vote: NPV garners the support of greater than two-thirds of voters in the 30+ states where it has been polled. The bill has now passed in five states (Maryland, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois and, most recently, Washington) with a total of 61 electoral votes, almost a quarter of the total needed for NPV to go into effect. Voters typically support NPV at about 75%, including healthy majorities of Republican voters. Polls in individual states show consistent support as well, with voters supporting it in a range from 68% to 81%. The following messages help address some of the myths and misunderstandings about the consequences of NPV:
Vote by Mail: Vote by Mail is now an option in five states (California, Colorado, Montana, Hawaii, and New Jersey) and has been increasingly popular with voters. California and Colorado have seen the greatest usage with almost a third of California voters voting by mail in November 2008, and an astounding 71% of Colorado voters doing so. Key arguments in favor include:
National Voter Registration Act Compliance: NVRA compliance has been re-implemented by public assistance agencies in five states (North Carolina, Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Missouri). The messages to expand these successes include:
Building Election Reform Campaigns
Progressive States Network is working with a range of allied organizations so state leaders can tap resources from those groups to help them in their legislative work. We will be working with those allies to strengthen communication between legislators and organizational allies across the states working on our priority election reforms, while providing other technical support as needed during policy campaigns.
Allied national groups are working on every aspect of our election reform agenda. Key organizations are listed below along with critical resources for waging a campaign.
National Popular Vote:
Vote by Mail:
PSN Support in Your States
PSN has already begun working with legislators and advocates to provide support for them as they introduce election reforms legislation around the country. We'd like to work with many more!
Our policy staff are also available to answer questions and supply information not on the website. Legislators and advocates can contact us about supporting Election Reform campaigns through our website or by emailing email@example.com.
As bills are introduced and sessions begin, PSN will provide ongoing resources and updates on election reform legislation, as well as help coordinate strategy and information sharing with our partners among sponsors and advocates.
New reports on Tax Inequality and the Fiscal Crisis in the States
Workers Losing Federal Unemployment Benefits in January 2010 Due to Expiration of the ARRA - The National Employment Law Project (NELP) released new numbers documenting that one million workers (or over 30,000 a day) will lose their jobless benefits in January alone if the federal extension programs are not reauthorized by the end of December.
Tools for Greening State Economies
Union and District Partnerships to Expand Learning Time: Three Schools' Experiences - This report by the Center for American Progress examines the challenges and successes of implementing expanded learning time in a traditional public school environment. It highlights the role of teachers and teachers' unions in negotiating an expanded schedule and reviews relevant literature on teacher time and collective bargaining.
Parenting with a Plan: How TANF Can Support Positive Parenting Relationships and Foster Father Involvement - States and localities vary on how well they are, or are not, providing tools to help low-income families effectively parent while living apart. This Center for American Progress report examines how federal TANF funding for its Access and Visitation program could be improved to help states, make joint parenting work, including greater support for services, legal service providers and supporting community-based institutions to support families.
3 Steps Forward
2 Steps Back
The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:
Nathan Newman, Executive Director
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