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Which Organization Deserves Leftover Jill Stein Recount Funds? It’s a No-Brainer: Fairvote!

December 15th, 2016 by Howard Ditkoff

As many of you probably know, Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2016 presidential candidate, recently raised money from many donors to try to initiate recounts of this year’s presidential ballots in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. She raised quite a significant amount of money for this cause – many millions of dollars - but had only limited success at inducing actual recounts. (She did manage to cause Wisconsin to do a recount, but courts in Michigan and Pennsylvania blocked recounts from being completed in those states.)

As a result, she may end up with leftover funds and the need to decide where to allocate them. As is only fitting, she has expressed interest in donating them to organizations that focus on electoral reforms and voting rights. Her website currently says that she will be accumulating a list of potential recipients and then there will be a vote – appropriately held in ranked choice fashion – in which those who donated to the initiative can decide which organizations will receive funds.

I have quite strong feelings about who should be among those to receive these funds. So I wrote a letter to Stein’s organization expressing them. Here is what I wrote:

Back in 2003, I learned about Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). I instantly recognized it as one of the key reforms needed to make most other reforms possible and to ever allow third parties to have any success in our country. I became so passionate about this that I coordinated a campaign that, in 2004, ultimately ended up passing IRV for city elections in Ferndale, Michigan.

You can see the site from our campaign at http://www.firv.org

I had never run such a campaign and didn’t know much about how to do it at the time. Luckily the folks at what was then called the Center for Voting and Democracy - now called Fairvote (http://www.fairvote.org) - allowed me to attend a conference they were holding in Washington, D.C. free of charge. There I learned everything I needed to bring back home and make our campaign a success and also made tons of valuable connections. Fairvote also helped fund our campaign and even sent someone from their organization out to Michigan to meet with us.

Unfortunately, despite the measure passing, IRV is still not implemented in Ferndale due to some technicalities.

See: http://www.systemsthinker.com/blog/2013/10/ferndale-failure-implement-irv/

But the campaign was a great help in spreading the word about IRV to many people and was instrumental in my evolution as an activist and more.

I’ve written quite a lot about election reform myself, helping to continue to spread the word:

See: http://www.systemsthinker.com/politics/polissues/electionreform.shtml

Other groups over the years have reached out to me as they tried to pass their own measures. And all of this was made possible by Fairvote.

12 years later, I remain a HUGE fan of Fairvote and I remain in touch with them. I believe they are not only the best election reform organization in America, but one of the most important non-profits of any kind in the country. Their Executive Director, Rob Richie, is a fantastic guy. And they also have Krist Novoselic, the former Nirvana bassist, bringing some notoriety to them, as well, as their Chair.

Not only do I think Fairvote deserves a great share of any leftover recount money, but I think it would be a travesty for them not to receive it. Nobody has been fighting harder or better for longer than them for Instant Runoff Voting/Ranked Choice Voting, as well as proportional representation. They support so many local campaigns around the country. Please make sure they get some of those recount funds. It’s a no-brainer!

One final note: As contentious as this election season was, one unequivocally inspiring outcome was that Maine became the first state in the nation to adopt Ranked Choice Voting. And, as always seems to be the case when progress is made in this area, Fairvote was deeply involved, supporting and promoting the campaign.

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