There were two enormous political stories coming out of the 2018 midterm elections.
The first, the Democrats retaking the House of Representatives, will undoubtedly have tremendous ramifications for Washington politics. But the other, potentially larger story - and the one largely ignored by the national media - was the widespread success of nonpartisan electoral reforms passed across the country.
From Maine to California and in states and municipalities in between, voters chose to put Country Over Party and to loudly demand that public elections should serve voters and not the self-interested political parties.
In fact, perhaps not since the Progressive Era of the early 20th Century has there been such widespread, influential, and catalytic political reforms passed in such short order. It’s not hyperbole that in 2018, Democracy won big at the ballot box on a statewide level:
- Ethics reform initiatives passed in New Mexico, Missouri, North Dakota and Florida;
- Money in politics reforms passed in Missouri, North Dakota, Massachusetts and in Baltimore, New York City, Denver, Phoenix;
- Voting rights initiatives passed in Florida, Maryland, Michigan and Nevada;
- In Maine, landmark Ranked Choice Voting election system reform was affirmed by its citizens providing voters more choice and more voice in their elections.
And in cities and counties across the country, where reforms were on the ballot, they were successful from small cities like Fargo to big ones like San Diego.
Reform is on the rise.
While the Constitution provides some power to the Congress to fix what ails federal elections, the real action in cleaning up campaigns, boosting competition, and encouraging greater citizen participation is happening in the states. Two weeks ago, more than 50 different nonpartisan electoral reform organizations from across the country huddled at the first national summit of the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers in Half Moon Bay, Calif., to coordinate the remarkable state-by-state momentum that is building around these reforms.
So while we applaud soon-to-be Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBriahna Joy Gray discusses Pelosi's 2022 re-election announcement The Hill's Morning Report - Who will replace Justice Breyer? House Republicans bash Democrats' China competition bill MORE’s (D-Calif.) promotion of the “H.R. 1 - For The People” package of election reforms to take on campaign finance, ethics and other structural fixes, we think there’s a great deal more that needs to be done.
We wholeheartedly celebrate the expanded awareness that H.R. 1 can bring to the national debate for fundamental, nonpartisan election reform. Labeling election reform legislation as the top priority of the new Congress is welcomed and should be taken seriously.
But like any major policy reform project, election reform can be difficult and confusing.
The National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers and its members, collectively, have years of successes, failures, and experience advocating for reforms that protect our nonpartisan voting rights.
We offer our perspective, our learnings, and our participation in this worthy pursuit.
We believe Leader Pelosi is on the right track with H.R.1. and is saying the right things about how important election reform should be for all voters. We hope the new Congress will seize this unprecedented moment to build a national movement for fixing our elections.
We stand ready to help.
Katherine M. Gehl and Michael E. Porter are Honorary Co-Chairs National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers. The National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers is a roundtable of the nation’s leading nonpartisan electoral reform organizations, leaders and funders. Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter are the co-authors of the Harvard Business School report, “Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America.”