|By Nate Plautz
RepresentUs Communications Consultant
July 27, 2023
Here’s an understatement: It’s hard to achieve meaningful change at the federal level. When politicians are beholden to donors and party bosses, pro-democracy policy reforms like Ranked Choice Voting and ending gerrymandering get left in the dust.
Meanwhile, special interest groups and their armies of lobbyists funnel millions into influencing federal policies that benefit their bottom line while members of Congress spend up to 70% of their time in office fundraising for the next election. Oftentimes, they’re seeking contributions from the same lobbyists and special interest groups who are trying to influence their vote.
To quote RepresentUs board member Ed Helms:
The entrenched federal power structure is intimidating, but it’s not unbeatable. Monumental social changes take place at the national level, but the momentum almost always starts at the local and state levels.
“Social change in the U.S. appears to follow a pattern: A few pioneer states get out front before the others, and then a key event—often a court decision or a grassroots campaign reaching maturity—triggers a rush of state activity that ultimately leads to a change in federal law.”
That’s why we’re fording the swamp of corruption and inaction. While RepresentUs is actively engaged in initiatives and coalition building at the federal level, we’re laser-focused on supporting state and local policy changes. We’ve trailblazed 177 successful pro-democracy initiatives in states across the country, most recently in Oregon.
What's going on in Oregon with Ranked Choice Voting?
Next November, Oregon voters will have the opportunity to approve statewide Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in the Beaver State. If this first-of-its-kind ballot referral receives voter approval, Oregon will become the largest state in the country to utilize RCV for state and federal elections.
This historic ballot referral was made possible by a grand coalition of local organizations, elected officials, and pro-democracy activists. RepresentUs has been deeply invested in this campaign for more than two years providing strategic, financial, and organizing support.
RepresentUs volunteers sent tens of thousands of texts, made thousands of phone calls, and identified thousands of supporters. RepresentUs’ organizing efforts focused on recruitment, campaign education, and volunteer action. Through every phase of the campaign, RepresentUs identified key gaps and filled them.
We recruited, trained, and supported a team of fantastic local leaders to lead the on-the-ground charge for Oregon Ranked Choice Voting. They organized events, recruited supporters, and drove advocacy across the state.
It took more than two years to build the Oregon RCV movement, but it took less than two weeks for this bill to move from stalled to passing both houses of the Oregon legislature. The final stretch was a whirlwind of volunteer events and personal outreach, and it culminated in a historic, unprecedented win for Ranked Choice Voting.
Get involved no matter where you live
We’re working with our Oregon partners to get Ranked Choice Voting across the finish line in November 2024, and we’re hard at work in cities and states across the country to pass meaningful pro-democracy reforms that make the government more responsive to the needs of everyday people.
We don’t have a secret shortcut - we have a roadmap and a proven path. Each win gets us one step closer to our goal of making America the world’s strongest democracy. Will you join us?
Contributors: Jenny Zimmer, RepresentUs National Organizing Director