9.14. Major Reform #2: Making Our Elections Fairer

Electoral reform isn’t the sexiest political issue. But it’s among the most important.

Right now, the Achilles heel of our democracy is the integrity of our elections.

We’re so bitterly divided, and the stakes are so high, that we need to insist on the highest standards of fairness.

We need to make the integrity of our elections totally above reproach, so that sore losers can’t seize on irregularities to dispute the results—or worse, elections can actually be stolen by power-hungry politicians.

But there are way too many vulnerabilities in our electoral system, as it currently stands.

There’s our fairly new primary system for selecting presidential candidates, which lets residents in states like Iowa and New Hampshire have far more influence than any of the American people living in the other 48 states.

There’s the good old Electoral College, which has failed to put the winner of the popular vote in the White House in 2 of the past 5 presidential elections.

There’s the widespread practice of gerrymandering: the largely legal but totally unethical practice of drawing districts to give one party an unfair advantage over the other.

There’s the fact that Election Day is always on a work day, and not everybody can fit in the time to go vote.

There’s the fact that regardless of whether 1 percent or 49 percent of voters in your district share your views, you’ll still end up with the same amount of representation: none.

Similarly, there’s no distinction between a candidate who wins 51 percent of the vote or 99 percent of the vote. They get the same amount of power and influence regardless.

There’s the fine line between voter suppression by imposing excessive requirements to be able to exercise your Constitutional right, and the voter fraud that results when the standards are too lax.

Finally—and most importantly—there’s the fact that as many as 95 percent of our Congressional races aren’t competitive, while the fate of our presidential elections is decided by a few tossup states.

The parties love this, because it lets them concentrate all their resources in the few states and races that matter. But it effectively negates the votes of the vast majority of Americans.

Admit it: none of those things are fair.

You might be okay with one or two of the things listed above, because they happen to benefit you or the party you vote for.

But I think you know none of these things are actually true to democratic principles.

They aren’t good for our country.

They cause people to doubt the fairness of our system.

They undermine the legitimacy of our elected officials.

And if our hyperpartisan struggles continue, sooner or later, somebody’s going to use one or more of these flaws to call our whole system into question.

Electoral reform isn’t the sexiest political issue.

But it’s among the most important.

It’s time to start insisting that our politicians address it.

 

This is the 154th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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