The American two-party system is bad for anyone who cares about racial equity. It creates a dynamic whereby one party is hostile and the other gives lip service, but believes it can take the votes of people of color for granted. Moving beyond our current system, “first-past-the-post”, which is a holdover from our British colonial history, may seem impossible. But, in fact, communities across the country have experimented with many reforms. One promising voting system, proportional representation, was implemented in New York City in the 1930’s. It is credited with the election of the first woman and the first people of color elected to city council - including Ben Davis, a black member of the Communist Party.
The workshop provides a crash course for advocates to learn about the ins and outs of electoral systems reform as it relates to racial equity. First, we will cover the range of values implicit in electoral systems, review the mechanics of the major ones in the US, and run an election to provide some hand-on experience. We will then discuss the implication of electoral systems on voting rights and building political power for communities of color and show a short documentary on a recent reform in Michigan. The session will end with some opportunities for making change happen in your communities.