The Bipartisan Policy Center, a non-profit “that drives principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation and respectful dialogue,” launched the Commission on Political Reform in 2013 to investigate the causes and consequences of the country’s “partisan political divide and to advocate for specific reforms that will improve the political process and that will work in a polarized atmosphere.”
The commission met with concerned citizens, political leaders and others about the problems, and their potential solutions, work that culminated in a report detailing recommendations for improvement, one of which centered on electoral reform.
The report, titled, “Governing in a Polarized America: A Bipartisan Blueprint to Strengthen our Democracy,” identifies reforms in three specific areas:
- the electoral process
- the process by which Congress legislates and manages its own affairs and
- the “ability of Americans to plug into the nation’s civic life through public service.”
In regard to the electoral process, the authors of the report write:
“The sad truth is that both major political parties firmly believe the other party is engaged in a constant mission of manipulating these rules to obtain an unfair advantage. This sense of distrust permeates the entire electoral process and reverberates into the legislative realm. If Americans do not trust that the system is on the level and think it has broken down, the United States will no longer be able to claim a government that rules with the consent of the governed.”
Here are the commission’s recommendations for electoral reform:
- States should adopt redistricting commissions that have the bipartisan support of the legislature and electorate.
- States and political parties should strive to dramatically increase the number of voters who cast ballots in primaries. They should strive to increase the number of eligible voters who turnout in 2020 by 30 percent and in 2026 by 35 percent.
- States should move away from very low-turnout methods of candidate selection, such as caucuses and conventions. States should create a single, national congressional primary date in June.
- States should dramatically improve access to their voter-registration lists by strengthening opportunities to register to vote and identifying eligible unregistered voters and contacting them with the opportunity to register.
- To ensure greater integrity, states should encourage direct opportunities for voters to input their own registration information and update their addresses.