Unrigging The System: How Voters Can Reclaim Their Power This November

Unrigging The System: How Voters Can Reclaim Their Power This November

Created: 12 September, 2018
Last update: 18 October, 2022

Political reformers across America are paying close attention to key elections on November 6. But their focus is not on candidates or political parties. It’s about how Americans vote on ballot measures to unrig the system.

Here are some highlights:

Voters Not Politicians (Michigan)

In Michigan, an anti-gerrymandering measure is on the ballot after Voters Not Politicians gathered more than 425,000 petition signatures with only volunteers within just 110 days. The measure creates an independent redistricting commission for congressional and state legislative districts to fix Michigan’s broken redistricting process.

Fair Maps Colorado

Initially, there was a possibility of multiple competing anti-gerrymandering ballot measures, one from a group with significant Republican backers and one from a group with significant Democratic backers. Thankfully, these groups came together to form Fair Maps Colorado and leveraged their combined political muscle to get the legislature to refer two anti-gerrymandering measures to the ballot - Amendment Y (Congressional) and Amendment Z (Legislative). These measures prohibit gerrymandering and create fair and competitive congressional and legislative districts.

Better Boundaries Utah

Better Boundaries led the petition drive to gather more than 150,000 signatures to quality anti-gerrymandering Proposition 4 for the ballot. Proposition 4 will fix the broken system by creating an independent citizens’ redistricting commission and new rules to govern the process.

Clean Missouri

Clean Missouri led the petition drive to gather more than 340,000 signatures to quality Amendment 1 for the ballot. Amendment 1 is a more comprehensive anti-corruption proposal that requires legislative records be open to the public, requires politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists, eliminates almost all lobbyist gifts, lowers campaign contribution limits, and ensures that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn.

North Dakotans for Public Integrity

North Dakotans for Public Integrity led the petition drive to gather more than 38,000 signatures to quality the North Dakota Anti-Corruption Amendment for the ballot. The Amendment increases transparency, roots out conflicts of interest, restricts lobbyist gifts, bans foreign money from elections, prevents personal use of campaign money, closes the revolving door from public official to lobbyist, and holds public officials accountable.

Represent South Dakota

Represent South Dakota led the petition drive to gather more than 50,000 signatures to qualify the South Dakota Anti-Corruption Amendment for the ballot. The Amendment restricts lobbyist gifts to politicians, bans campaign money from unions and corporations to candidates and political parties, bans foreign money, stops politicians from using public office for personal gain, toughen ethics law enforcement and protects voter-approved laws from legislative meddling.

Additional November 2018 Ballot Measures

  • New Mexico voters will consider a proposal to create an ethics commission.
  • Money in politics ballot measures are on the ballot in Massachusetts, Denver, Phoenix and Baltimore.
  • Michigan and Nevada voters will decide on automatic voter registration.
  • Memphis voters will decide on the city council's attempt to do away with instant-runoff voting.

9 Major Wins Already in 2018

The movement to unrig the system already has 9 wins so far in 2018. Here’s a look back at this year’s major reform victories:

  • March: Automatic voter registration passed in Washington. Tempe voters passed a dark money disclosure ballot measure.
  • April: Maryland and New Jersey passed automatic voter registration.
  • May: Ohio voters passed anti-gerrymandering. Connecticut joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
  • June: Maine voters protected ranked choice voting.
  • July: Alaska passed an anti-corruption law.
  • August: Massachusetts passed automatic voter registration.

12 Major Wins in 2016

There were a dozen major reform wins at the ballot in 2016, including:

  • Automatic voter registration in Alaska.
  • Anti-corruption in South Dakota.
  • Lobbying reform in San Francisco, California.
  • Campaign finance reform in Missouri, Berkeley, California, Howard County, Maryland and Multnomah County, Oregon.
  • Ethics reform constitutional amendment in Rhode Island.
  • Ranked choice voting measures in Maine and Benton County, Oregon.
  • Calls to overturn Citizens United in Washington and California.

2018 is poised to be a historic year for political reform and the beginning of the end for politics-as-usual.

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About the Author

Dan Krassner

Dan Krassner is the political director for RepresentUs, the nation’s largest nonpartisan anti-corruption group.