By Jason Harrow and Adam Eichen
This update is a little late this month — for good reason! Over the past few weeks, the Equal Citizens team has been working tirelessly on our litigation and campaigns to fix our democracy. The New Year may have just begun, but our work never ends.
Ranked Choice Voting Update:
Since December, we have partnered with a cross-partisan coalition across New Hampshire to build a movement for ranked choice voting (RCV) in the presidential primaries. We lobbied legislators, hosted grassroots meetings, and even held mock beer elections to educate the public about RCV.
We helped draft HB 728 — the bill to bring RCV to the presidential primaries — which was introduced in the House Election Law Committee. Our supporters rallied to urge the committee to advance the measure. And in the week before the final vote, we got commitments from seven of the twenty committee members that they would support our bill. (To put this feat in perspective, a similar RCV bill last year had only one supporter.)
After working with a group of experts to address the concerns of committee members on the fence, we fully expected our bill to pass. Last Wednesday, however, the New Hampshire House Election Law committee unfathomably voted to “retain” HB 728. This means that, instead of advancing the bill to the House floor, the committee delayed a decision on the matter for at least another year. As part of its decision to retain, the committee will hold hearings on the bill in the fall and will vote again in January. Under normal circumstances, retention is not the worst case scenario. However, given that the 2020 primaries are only a year away, kicking the can down the road was merely an indirect way to kill reform.
HB 728 is therefore no longer a plausible vehicle to implement RCV in time for the upcoming presidential primaries. This, as far as we are concerned, is unacceptable.
We have not reached the end of our fight, though. The Equal Citizens team is currently exploring a variety of alternative legislative options. New Hampshire deserves a presidential primary that promotes substantial debate and democratic outcomes, not personal attacks and broken delegate allocation.
We hope you will join us for the next phrase.
We continue to litigate several important cases to change the way we elect the president and get money out of politics.
Most recently, on February 13, Equal Votes’ lead counsel David Boies appeared at a hearing in San Antonio where he presented the case for why Texas’s use of winner-take-all allocation in the electoral is unconstitutional. The judge took the case under advisement but guessed that, whatever way he rules, the case would be headed to the Supreme Court. We agree there. You can read about the hearing here.
In the meantime, we continue to wait on a decision in our Equal Votes case in South Carolina and to press our appeals in appeals courts in Massachusetts and California. We expect decisions in those places later this year.
We are also working on our final brief in our important Alaska casethat could end Super PACs there and then throughout the country. That brief will be filed soon, and then we’ll wait on tenterhooks for a decision there.
Last, a few weeks ago, we also appeared in two appellate courts on behalf of 2016 presidential electors to litigate the unanswered questionof whether electors may be forced to vote for particular people. In what’s becoming a theme, you guessed it: now we just wait for decisions. We’ll of course let you know when decisions come down in these and other cases.
Thanks for your support.
This blog post was adapted from Lessig’s monthly email update. To receive these emails, click here.