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BY KRIST NOVOSELIC

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marginalization of alternative parties and a increasingly troublesome overlap of party and race in the South. With a motto of respect for every vote and every voice, FairVote goes to the root cause of our problems with reforms that can be won by mere statute and have been proven locally. We move new reform ideas into the mainstream and find local partners to win change. We’ve helped win fair representation systems in voting rights cases, voter preregistration for 16-year-olds in states, and ranked choice voting in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Memphis. We organize events like this year’s DemocracyNext.com series at N.Y.U.’s campus in Washington, D.C. I’m leading FairVote’s campaign to fund our Reform2020.com drive. Here’s how you can help realize our goals. >>

ENDGERRYMANDERINGWITHFAIR REPRESENTATIONVOTING In 2014, Republicans will keep control even if opposed by 55 percent of voters, and most Americans live in uncompetitive districts where they can’t make a difference. Giving redistricting powers to partisans is wrong, but the core problem is the very idea that one person can represent everyone in a given area. To truly end gerrymandering, Congress must require states to establish independent

commissions tasked with drawing plans designed for fair representation voting. For example, Louisiana would replace its six lopsided districts with two bigger districts with three seats each and use a proven fair representation system allowing about a quarter of voters to win one of three seats. That means fair representation of each district’s left, center and right. All white and African American voters, along with all Democrats and Republicans, would gain the power to elect preferred candidates.Visit FairVoting.us to see how Americans in every corner of every state would break free of monopoly representation and always have a reason to vote. How you can help: Support congressional legislation on fair representation. Sign our Reform2020.com pledge committing to seeking gender parity in elected offices through changes like fair representation voting. Back fair representation in more cities and campuses.

ADOPTRANKEDCHOICEVOTING FORELECTIONS Our system breaks down whenever more than two people run for one-winner offices like president and governor. Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) ends the “spoiler” problem by allowing voters to rank candidates, allowing a simulated instant runoff between

WA S H I N G T O N L I F E

| O C T O B E R      | washingtonlife.com

P H OTO CO U RT E SY O F FA I RVOT E

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wo decades ago, as Nirvana’s bassist, I was fortunate to help bring alternative music into the mainstream. Millions of people embraced “grunge” in yet another stage in music’s continual re-invention. That experience of people coming together behind change and my later work with young people defending music freedom brought me to FairVote, which has been the most innovative force in electoral reform since its founding in 1992. I am its chairman and I work with our executive director Rob Richie, his energetic staff and board members like former independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson, the New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg and Oakland Rising’s Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont. We’re taking on a political system that is long on dysfunction and short on participation, competition, and fair representation. Respect for our democratic institutions has hit an all-time low. Incumbents undercut our fundamental right to vote by treating electoral laws as tools for partisan advantage. Winnertake-all elections and low turnout allow a party to control Congress despite losing the popular vote and channel our diversity of views into fiercely partisan camps that clash with a governing structure based on compromise. Our voting laws lead to noncompetitive elections, under-representation of women, presidential campaigns that ignore most Americans,


Krist Novoselic (Courtesy of FairVote)

the top candidates. We’ve helped win RCV in more than a dozen cities. With new voting software making it easy to administer RCV, we anticipate statewide wins. How you can help: Join the Washington Post in backing RCV for District elections. Try RCV at your organization, as done at more than 50 college campuses, including Georgetown University.

ADOPTANATIONALPOPULAR VOTEFORPRESIDENT The Electoral College allows winners who lose the popular vote, isolates campaigning to swing states and enables partisans to

Krist Novoselic, Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl (Getty Images)

game election though voter suppression laws. With FairVote a key ally, the National Popular Vote agreement is law in states representing more than half of the 270 electoral votes necessary to activate it in 2016. It will guarantee victory for the candidate who wins the most votes in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. How you can help: Draw attention to the opportunity to win this urgently needed change.

JOINAMODERNSUFFRAGE MOVEMENT Battles over voting r ights underscore

the need for an explicit right to vote in the Constitution. Montgomery County and Takoma Park are among a rapidly growing movement of counties, cities and campuses passing resolutions that call for an amendment and commit to concrete actions to protect, promote and expand suffrage. How you can help:Visit PromoteOurVote. com for tools to pass resolutions in your community. Krist Novoselic is chairman of FairVote. “A regular columnist for Salon.com, Krist is author of the 2004 book Of Grunge and Government: Let’s Fix this Broken Democracy.” Get involved at FairVote.org

KILLING THE GERRYMANDER If the designs on the right were works of abstract art, they might be applauded. Instead, they are current congressional district maps in Maryland and North Carolina. These distorted lines weren’t done randomly. Republican lawmakers created more safe seats for their party. Democratic candidates won the most votes, but won only four of 13 seats. Mitt Romney easily carried 10 districts, with Democrats packed into the remaining three districts that Obama won by huge margins. A partisan gerrymander produced by Maryland Democrats was equally absurd, but had its desired goal: Democrats won seven of eight seats. Independent redistricting would reduce such grotesque districts, but it wouldn’t solve the underlying problems of uncompetitive elections and partisan bias. Those are products mostly of where voters live and their increasingly rigid party preferences. Congress can truly end gerrymandering only with a law establishing fair representation voting. For example, North Carolina might have three “super districts” with seats elected by a system where like-minded voters can elect candidates in proportion to their voting strength. Each district would elect both Republicans and Democrats, with the left, right and center earning its fair share. Every white voter and every black voter would have the power to elect preferred candidates, with such plans creating a more enduring means to uphold the Voting Rights Act. And we wouldn’t even need district maps that could double as a Rorschach test to do it.

WA S H I N G T O N L I F E

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Actual Congressional Voting Districts

Fair Representation Voting Districts

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FairVote - Washington Life - October 2013