FairVote Virginia was an early adopter of the fastest growing election reform in our nation. In 2017, I worked with my state representative to get legislation introduced in Virginia, proposing Instant Run-Offs (Ranked Choice Voting.) I reached out to the folks at FairVote and said, "Help! There's a bill proposing Ranked Choice Voting in Virginia, and I'm just a single voter that knows nothing about advocacy!" Those might not have been my exact words, but that was the translation. The team at FairVote hopped on a call and coached me through, the best they could, on short notice, from a conference call. That year, Delegate Freitas' bill died quickly in subcommittee. But I did not stop.
FairVote connected me to other reform advocates in Virginia. We co-founded a state chapter, using the FairVote branding, and we began the work of citizen advocacy. Year after year, we supported RCV bills that our Delegates and Senators proposed. We organized grassroots support and testimony. We held information sessions all over the Commonwealth. We connected with other reform groups.
We changed our designation from a 501(c)(3) to a 501(c)(4). We went through leadership changes and Board of Directors turnovers, like all healthy organizations do. Our Board members had robust discussions and stayed true to our single-issue beginnings, and our Vision and Mission.
One of our original co-founders, Sally Hudson, stepped away to run for office in 2019. She was elected to the House of Delegates and was able to sponsor and pass legislation in 2020, that allowed for a pilot program for Ranked Choice Voting in City Council and Boards of Supervisor elections. There was a delayed enactment until 2021, then the State Department of Elections had to go through the process of promulgating regulations.
Finally, on June 20th, 2023 we will see the first locality in Virginia to run an election using Ranked Choice Voting. Arlington County will be using RCV in the Democratic Primary to nominate TWO candidates for Board of Supervisors. Find the sample ballot and all the details here
During the time of our organization's existence, we have seen both major parties in Virginia use RCV in party-run nominating conventions, with great success!
We have built and connected clusters of regional support and volunteers in Loudoun County, Fredericksburg, Hampton Roads region, Albemarle County & Charlottesville, Chesterfield, Richmond, Fairfax, and more.
We've now reached the next phase in advocacy for RCV in Virginia. We are moving into the Implementation Phase. We are confident that the Election Department in Arlington will administer the June 20th primary with security, integrity, and efficiency.
Several other localities have considered adopting RCV for local elections, and after June 20th, we believe they will commit to participating in the pilot program. All eyes are on Arlington right now!
We have been fortunate to work with an enthusiastic and effective coalition of non-partisan reformers. Our Board of Directors has recently voted to dissolve our organization and pass the reform baton on to these highly motivated good governance reformers. Our remaining funds will be donated to RCV Resource Center. They will be working on a solution that will allow Virginia to implement state-wide RCV very soon!
I want to take this time to thank our co-founders, mentors, board members (past and present), volunteers, donors, bill sponsors, supporters, and collaborators! We could not have done this work without you all.
Effective June 30, 2023, FairVote Virginia will close. BUT we encourage you all to keep working toward good governance reforms, like RCV, in Virginia! See our list of collaborators below and join their efforts.
I will continue that work as a candidate for office. I am launching an Independent campaign for Virginia State Senate, District 28. You can learn more here
Thank you all for supporting us over the last several years and for reading through to the end of this update. Please join the work of these amazing organizations working in Virginia:
And so many more!
Co-Founder, FairVote Virginia