The Nation Covers RI Electoral Reform Victories editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel has a blog post up about the recent FairVote RI legislative victories — The pre-registraion bill sponsored by Rep. Ed Pacheco and Sen. Rhoda Perry, and the senate vacancies legislation sponsored by Rep. Chris Fierro and  Sen. Paul Jabour:

How do we make this a pro-democracy year? It’s not looking good so far, with so much attention focused on the drama of the horse race–who’s retiring, who’s running. Deep change, structural change, is not as sexy as people change–but it’s exactly what is required for “real change we can believe in”–a phrase progressives need to retrieve in 2010.

One group that deserves far more attention for the work it has done day in, day out, for nearly twenty years, is FairVote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that makes real the mantra “respect, include, and empower every voice and every vote.”

FairVote just scored two sweet victories in Rhode Island. Two of its initiatives overcame gubernatorial vetoes through bipartisan votes. As a result the state will now allow voter pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds and mandate popular elections to fill all US Senate vacancies. Young people who pre-register will automatically be added to the rolls for the first election in which they are eligible to vote.

6 thoughts on “The Nation Covers RI Electoral Reform Victories”

  1. Danger, J Robinson! Danger!
    ::wave robot arms::
    Democrats are recruiting the youth vote!

    A bad musician blames his instrument, J. Republicans fail in Rhode Island because they’re failures in Rhode Island, not because of the crafty machinations of Democrats. But it’s a popular and all too easy pass to blame the other party when things don’t go your way.

    How did Frank Ferri gain his seat? Not with Democratic support. He ran AGAINST the party’s handpicked candidate, and wiped the floor with him — mostly by burning through a pair of shoes getting out and actually talking to voters. Does anyone remember his Republican challenger? Does anyone remember if he even had one? (I can’t even remember who ran against Kennedy, and I wrote my paper’s endorsements.)

    Republicans’ failure to prevail in Rhode Island is their own damn fault, and no one else’s. If they can’t pull together a cohesive, coherent, cogent, and competitive campaign challenge, then they will not gain on current politicians and policies, no matter how awful. This is not an endorsement of Democratic government in this state — far from it — but a cold, hard indictment of repeated internal failings of Republican party politics.

    And it’s a damned shame, too, because although I rarely side with Republicans in politics, I find the vast majority of them likable and respectable, and recognise the desperate need for a solid challenge to single-party politics in Rhode Island. So I’m not laughing, I’m actually angry and disappointed in you. We need you even more than you think you need yourselves.

    You need to drop the refrain of constantly blaming Democrats and liberals. Some ideas touted by self-described conservatives and self-identified Republicans, here and elsewhere, are simply out of date or debunked, or won’t play in Rhode Island, period. There will always be staunch conservatives in Rhode Island, but they will always be a minority and very few will ever win major offices. You need to just learn to live with that, and stay in the game in other ways. Electable Republicans in Rhode Island are not these people, and the party errs in pushing them while blaming everyone but themselves for losing elections.

    In any case, there’s nothing wrong with courting the youth vote. Why doesn’t the GOP try its hand at the same, instead of whining about Democrats doing it?

  2. Hardly the case that Dems are less informed than Repubs on average. Please provide the stats.

    But agreed that civics ed should be more widely-taught. FairVote has pushed civics ed simultaneous to the pre-registration legislation in every state where they’ve worked on it.

  3. See, that’s the point, exactly. Schwarzenegger is milquetoast Republican. He is hardly right wing, he’s not fiscally responsible, and he believes in big government. It’s not the very thought of pre-reg that’s the problem; its about the people being registered.

    “And, yes, you know a party has problems when the simple act of getting people to register to vote is seen as an affront.”

    Hardly. That’s the way you progressives constantly view people on the right. I want an informed public, voting: you don’t. Let me put it this way: I’ll get excited about kids getting involved when they start teaching civics again in school. All we want to avoid, is more of this:

    But you want more of that, don’t you?

    And it cuts both ways, too… because I could easily say this about the Democratic Party, “And, yes, you know a party has problems when they need to enroll the least informed to support them.”

  4. Pre-registration was pushed by the GOP in Florida, signed by Schwarzenegger in California, and received broad Republican support in North Carolina. Republicans have every right to go register voters too. And, yes, you know a party has problems when the simple act of getting people to register to vote is seen as an affront.

  5. Bi-partisan votes? Rhode island is one of the few states described by wikipedia as “permanently blue”… and it’s been that way for a long long time. There aren’t enough Republicans in the state to achieve anything that could be remotely described as bi-partisan. And the Republicans that are, are milquetoast progressive Republicans.

    Besides, these are the same people who refuse to make people show ID when they vote… but they’re oh so concerned that every kid is ready to pull that blue lever as soon as they’re able, aren’t they? We’ll see hundreds of dedicated progressive groups hitting the streets in the spring to pre-register these tykes and explain to them what it means to vote blue. Yep, that’s progressive.

    All the democrats do in this state is protect their own power. They wouldn’t allow this early registration if they didn’t think it would help THEM in some way. And they only allow a popular vote to replace a senator for now… when the day comes and that process looks like it will lead to a Republican taking a Democrat’s seat… they’ll suddenly vote to appoint this person themselves. (Yep, just like in they did in Massachusetts.)

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