Letters to the Editor: November 7 – 13, 2019
Virginia Democrats Must Now Bolster Democracy
After a decades-long struggle, Virginia Democrats have won back control of the statehouse. This is cause for celebration! But when we finish our victory lap, we face an important question: what are we going to do with our power? There are many long-overdue policies worth pursuing, from gun safety to housing justice to green energy. But on Day 1, it is important that we don’t lose this opportunity to ensure that our democracy itself is bolstered. Without an election system that ensures the active participation of the diverse many — rather than the entrenchment of the powerful few — any particular policy we pass this session is at risk of being rolled back in due time.
Therefore, I propose that Virginia Democrats prioritize the passage of a “democracy booster pack” on Day 1. To make it easier to vote, let’s (1) establish same-day voter registration and (2) make Election Day a state holiday. To allow more people to vote, let’s (3) lower the voting age to 16 and (4) like Maine and Vermont, allow prison voting. To give more candidates a chance, let’s (5) establish ranked-choice voting; and (6) end gerrymandering with nonpartisan redistricting. And to increase the voice of working people in the campaign finance system, let’s (7) pass a Seattle-style democracy voucher system and (8) repeal our anti-union “right to work” laws so that more workers can organize for power.
We’re called “Democrats” for a reason — let’s not lose this amazing opportunity to deepen our democracy!
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