- Calls for the “fundamental structural reform of American elections”
- Promotes policies, such as absentee voting and universal voter registration, that historically have been correlated with voter fraud
- Advocates voting rights for felons
- Calls for Washington, DC to have representation in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate
Founded in 1992, Fair Vote (FV), which for a number of years was known as the Center for Voting and Democracy (CVD), is dedicated to the “fundamental structural reform of American elections.” By FV’s reckoning, a more equitable electoral system would empower nonwhite “racial groups and other communities of interest” to “elect representatives in proportion to their percentage of the voting age population.” To bring about this and other desired reforms, FV supports a number of key measures:
(a) Congressional Representation for Washington, DC: Asserting that “DC residents are relegated to second-class citizenship” because they “have no representation” in Congress, FV contends that “every DC resident should be able to elect a voting member of the House of Representatives and two U.S. Senators.”
(b) Permitting Felons to Vote: Lamenting that “upwards of 5.3 million Americans are denied the right to vote because of a past felony conviction,” FV likens this policy to “Jim Crow laws such as poll taxes and literacy requirements” that were once devised “to disenfranchise voters.” Because the ban on felon voting disproportionately affects African American men, FV sees the policy as racist. In its effort to overturn the ban, the organization works collaboratively with the Sentencing Project.
(c) National Popular Vote: This initiative seeks to eliminate the current Electoral College system, on grounds that it “leads presidential candidates to concentrate their resources on voters in a handful of swing states, relegating the vast majority of the country to spectator status.”
(d) Universal Voter Registration: Under this plan, election boards would automatically register every person whose name appears on a government agency list of any type, including lists of welfare recipients, unemployment-insurance beneficiaries, property owners, and driver’s-license holders. As The American Thinker points out, such a measure would “create massive vulnerabilities to systemic voter fraud” for several reasons:
“Many states’ lists include vast numbers of illegals, including some states which allow illegals to obtain driver’s licenses.”
“Because many homeowners have more than one home, there will be duplicates.”
“Because so many people are on so many separate federal and state government agency lists, there will be duplicates.”
- “Because so many lists exist with little or no cross-checking capability, all of these duplicates are likely to go uncorrected.”
As an extension of the foregoing measures, FV suggests that “every U.S. citizen, upon birth or after naturalization,” should be provided with “a voter registration number similar to a social security number to be used in all elections and activated when a voter turns 18.”
(e) Removing “Barriers” to Voter Turnout: Contending that because one’s income is positively correlated with the likelihood that he or she will vote in political elections, FV claims that “politicians are more responsive to the opinions of high-income constituents.” To “narrow the gap in voting disparities” between the affluent and the poor, the organization seeks to discontinue “the untimely scheduling of elections during the workweek” – in favor of expanding opportunities for absentee balloting, a practice that has been highly correlated to voter fraud in the past.
(f) Democracy SOS Project: This initiative aims to “shine a spotlight” on the importance of statewide elections for Secretary Of State (SOS). As the chief election officer who certifies candidates as well as election results in his or her state, an SOS can potentially play a key role in determining the winner of a close election. FV has collaborated on this issue with Common Cause.
FV opposes the “restrictive and often burdensome” Voter ID laws that require people to present photo identification at polling places and “may prevent otherwise eligible voters from participating.” “Voter ID laws may increase the perception of more secure elections,” adds FV, “but voters should always be able to substitute a signature for a valid ID. Furthermore, voter ID laws should only be considered in tandem with steps to register all eligible voters and supply them with free government-issued identification cards.”
The Fair Vote board of directors includes such key players as:
John Anderson, who ran as an Independent presidential candidate in 1980
Malia Lazu, a former director of the Racial Justice Campaign Fund at Progressive Majority, where, according to FV, she “focused on creating models to elect candidates of color and help progressives win”
- William Redpath, former chairman of the Libertarian Party
Cynthia Terrell, co-founder of FV and currently a board member of the American Friends Service Committee; Terrell previously worked for the Fund for the Feminist Majority, sister organization to the Feminist Majority Foundation
- Rob Richie: The husband of Cynthia Terrell, Richie has been the director of FV since 1992. With a background as a congressional campaign worker, he has written several pieces for The Nation, including a collaborative effort with Marc Cooper and Eric Alterman.
FV is also a member of the National Council of Women’s Organizations.