Debriefing Democracy: Nonpartisan Movements In the Spotlight

Created: 28 July, 2016
Updated: 17 October, 2022
8 min read

A lot of people are working hard to fix our broken system. Problem is, most people don’t know just how many important efforts are making strides because the media doesn’t spend much time talking about them.

So we are.

Voter disenfranchisement and disillusionment has been on the rise for a number of years, but there is something special about this presidential election season. Maybe it’s the fact that we now have the two most disliked presidential nominees in the history of modern politics.

In any case, there are many organizations fighting against the duopolistic control that the Democrat and Republican party machines exercise from local elections and legislation up to the federal level.

In order to keep the momentum moving throughout this election and after, it is important these organizations are publicized for their ongoing efforts. And, what better way to do so than to establish a monthly Nonpartisan Movement Update for readers and organizations?

Here’s what’s happening:

Centrist Project

The Centrist Project is an organization trying to break through the political gridlock occurring in Congress by electing five independent, centrist U.S. Senators each election cycle with the help of moderate and independent Americans.

In May 2016, the Centrist Project announced its endorsement of Margaret Stock, independent candidate for U.S. Senate in Alaska.

Centrist Project in the News:

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Moderate and Mad as Hell

The 24% Manifesto

Change.org & Change Politics

Change.org is an open platform for any individual to start a petition in their community, city, state, or nation. More than 100 million people and over 100,000 organizations in 196 countries advance their causes through Change.org. According to the organization’s website, 18,639 petitions have led to a victorious outcome.

Within the last year, Change.org launched Change Politics, a website designed to make voting simpler for Americans. By entering your home address, voters can quickly view upcoming races in their district and see candidate endorsements from friends, the media, policy advocates, and others.

If you’d like to start a petition or view candidates running for office in your area, visit Change.org or Change Politics.

Change Politics in the News:

Change Politics is a ‘Facebook for Voters’ for the US Election


Crowdpac is an independent and nonpartisan platform that connects small donors to candidates and organizations to counter the influence big money donors have in swaying elections now. Crowdfunding campaigns makes it easier for anti-establishment and anti-corporate funding candidates to run for office. The organization’s central goal is to make American democracy more representative of the electorate.

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Most recently, Crowdpac was a co-winner of the American Experiments Showcase held during the Democratic National Convention. American Experiments featured some of the top civic tech and political reform organizations trying to improve politics and elections with technology.

Crowdpac in the News:

High-tech Tools for Better Politics


FairVote is a non-profit organization founded in 1992. Its goal is to make democracy fair, functional, and more representative by studying and advocating for electoral reforms such as proportional representation, ranked choice voting, and universal voter registration.

This November, voters in Maine will have an opportunity to vote on ballot initiative, Question 5, which would implement ranked choice voting in all statewide elections. If passed, Maine will be the first in the nation to implement this democratic reform for all statewide elections. According to FairVote, this electoral reform promotes majority support of candidates, discourages negative campaigning, and provides more choice for voters.

In April, FairVote joined Level the Playing Field, the Green Party, and the Libertarian Party in a lawsuit against the FEC over the CPD’s exclusionary 15% threshold rule. The plaintiffs argue the threshold serves to keep out unwanted competition.

FairVote in the News:

Stark Trends Towards Higher Republican Turnout, Lower Democratic Turnout in Open Primaries

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In Writing Their Platforms, Parties Strive For a More Open Electoral System


Founded in 1994, IndependentVoting.org is a national strategy, communications, and organizing center working to develop a movement of independent voters toward reforming the American political process.

Independent Voting will be at the virtual American Citizens Summit on August 1-4. Jackie Salit, IndependentVoting.org President, will speak along with 45 other political leaders and activists on creating a more effective democracy in the United States. This is a free online event. Salit will speak on Tuesday, August 2 at 8pm ET. Register here.

IndependentVoting.org in the News:

On Top of the World -- The Continental Divide

The Effects of New York’s Restrictive Voting Laws

Millions of Independents Are Left Out of the Primaries. That Must Change.

Independent Voter Project

The Independent Voter Project began in 2006 with a simple mission statement: Democracy functions best when the most people participate. In an effort to break California’s political gridlock and make the state’s elections competitive, IVP authored California’s Proposition 14 in 2010, which established the state’s Top Two Nonpartisan open primary. Now, IVP is developing a state-by-state legal strategy to challenge closed partisan primary systems nationwide.

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In April, IVP filed an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., in the case Level the Playing Field, et.al. v. Federal Election Commission. IVP states the CPD is a partnership between two private political parties and therefore has a fiduciary duty to preserve the interests of the two private groups at the expense of the larger population.

As an ongoing project, IVP is a publisher of IVN.us, a nonpartisan open platform for all independent-minded readers, voters, and organizations to publish unfiltered political news and policy analysis.  

Independent Voter Project in the News:

California Legislators to Introduce Revolutionary New Presidential Primary Reform

IVP Files to Remove 50% Plus 1 Primary Rule, Says All Voters Have Right to Vote in November

Better For America

Better For America (BFA) is creating a pathway for an independent presidential candidate to be on the ballot in all 50 states to provide Americans with a candidate they can vote for, rather than against. Nearly two-thirds of Americans want an alternative candidate for president, according to Better for America.

“Millions of dollars and millions of votes later the American people are still clearly unsatisfied with the two major party nominees,” Kahlil Byrd, Senior Advisor to Better For America explains. “We say there is still hope for another choice to unite us all.”

In June, BFA filed a motion in federal court to join Level the Playing Field’s lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission arguing that the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) is not nonpartisan and actively works to exclude minor parties from the debate stage.

Most recently, BFA travelled to the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention to continue building their coalition and partnerships on the ground.

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If you’d like to get involved, please visit BFA’s volunteer page.

Better For America in the News:

Better For America In Philadelphia Building Coalitions

Another Plaintiff Joins Lawsuit Against Commission on Presidential Debates

Let Colorado Vote

Let Colorado Vote is a nonpartisan organization that seeks to increase voter participation in Colorado. More than 34% of Colorado’s active voters are unaffiliated and therefore cannot participate in the primary elections without first joining a political party.

This year, Let Colorado Vote (LCV) is placing two initiatives on the November ballot to 1) restore a presidential primary and 2) open primary elections to the state’s 1.3 million unaffiliated voters. LCV is currently gathering signatures and will turn them into the Colorado Secretary of State in August to be certified for the November ballot.

Let Colorado Vote in the News:

Colorado to Open Its Primary Elections to Independents?

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Who Really Wants a Caucus in Colorado? Why Not Have a Primary?

Level the Playing Field

Level the Playing Field (LPF) is currently suing the Federal Elections Commission over the CPD’s 15% polling threshold to make it into the presidential debates. LPF filed the lawsuit in June of last year. Since then, many organizations such as Better For America, FairVote, and the Independent Voter Project have signed on in support of LPF’s argument.

The plaintiffs argue that while a 15 percent polling threshold may seem reasonable, a candidate actually needs 60 to 80 percent name recognition to poll at 15 percent.

However, the mainstream media does not cover third party or independent candidates as much as their Democrat and Republican competitors. Reaching the 15 percent threshold is therefore almost insurmountable. A candidate would have to spend nearly $260 million in ad buys, reports Level the Playing Field.

“When 43 percent of American voters refuse to identify with either the Democrats or Republicans, we need to work for political reforms that open up the system and allow those voices to be represented in our democracy,” Cara McCormick, President of Level the Playing Field explained in an interview for IVN.

Level the Playing Field in the News:

A Political Revolution is Happening -- And It Starts with the Presidential Debates

Is It Time to Shake Up the Presidential Debates?

Open Primaries

Open Primaries is a movement of Americans who believe that everyone should be able to vote without having to join a political party. Its mission is to advocate for open, nonpartisan primaries all over the United States.

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Beginning in June, Open Primaries began a petition calling on the DNC and RNC Rules Committees to amend their primary rules in favor of open primaries. Open Primaries delivered 40,000 signatures to both parties during the July conventions.

Recent research conducted by Open Primaries reveals the staggering cost taxpayers shelled out for the presidential primaries this year, even though 26.3 million voters in closed primary states were excluded. Take a look.

Also, be sure to take a look at the recent effort in South Dakota to establish nonpartisan open elections. Amendment V will be on the November ballot.

Open Primaries in the News:

Petition Calls for RNC Rules Committee to Open Up Republican Primaries to Non-GOP Voters

Polls, Petition Reveal That Millions of Americans Want Open Primaries

Closed Primaries are Less Inclusive than Soviet Era Politics


Represent.Us is the nation’s largest grassroots anti-corruption campaign and is working to change Congress by passing the Anti-Corruption Act that make it illegal to purchase political influence through secret donations.

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In 2014, Represent.Us won its first campaign battle and passed the first municipal Anti-Corruption Act in Tallahassee, Florida. Since then, Represent.Us has 10 victories under its belt.

Represent.Us in the News:

Voters Angry About Big Money in Politics Take Their Complaints to City Hall

Protesters Nationwide Denounce Big Money in U.S. Politics


Is your organization trying to make the system more responsive to voters? Let us know if we should include you in our update: 


Photo credit: AP/Alex Brandon

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