FLORENCE, Mass. (November 2, 2018)– Bipartisanship is a rare sight in the 2018 midterm elections, but ballot measures on the topic of government corruption are uniting unlikely allies from the political right and left.
“It’s so rare in America today to see a Trump voter and a Clinton voter agree on anything,” said Josh Silver, director of RepresentUs, the nation’s largest right-left anti-corruption group who supports more than a dozen political reform ballot initiatives on the November ballot. “But we can bring people together from the political right and left to fight corruption. This might be the one problem where there’s common ground to address it. It’s essential for America’s future that we unrig the system and unlock our country’s potential as a democracy.”
In Missouri, State Senator Rob Schaaf, a Republican, who voted for President Donald Trump and St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, a Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton for in 2016, joined forces to advocate for Clean Missouri, a sweeping ethics and campaign finance ballot measure. The duo teamed up for an ad titled “What a Democrat and a Republican can agree on” to explain their support despite their differences.
“We may vote differently but we can agree on one thing: It’s time to clean up our government in Jefferson City,” Jones said in the ad. “That is why we will both be voting yes on the Clean Missouri Initiative,” Schaaf adds.
According to Gallup, Republicans and Democrats unfavorable ratings of each other’s party are near 90 percent on each side. But those widespread views are not stopping bipartisan coalitions from forming in this historic year for political reform ballot measures. There are more political reform ballot measures in 2018 than at any time in American history, according to a search of the NCSL statewide ballot measures database on the topics of redistricting and ethics.
In North Dakota, the self-described “Badass Grandmas” teamed up to form North Dakotans for Public Integrity, the group backing an anti-corruption ballot measure. The leaders of the campaign are Republican Dina Butcher and Democrat Ellen Chaffee.
“We’re two grandmas from different sides of the aisle.” Butcher says in a radio ad. “That’s right, a Republican and Democrat working together,” Butcher adds. Then Chaffee says, “And we’ve had it with lobbyists and all the power they have in our state government.”
In South Dakota, Republican former state representative Mitch Richter and Democrat former state representative Darrell Solberg, wrote in a joint op-ed in the Argus Leader, “Creating an accountable government is not a left versus right issue. That’s why the two of us, a Republican and a Democrat who each served in the South Dakota Legislature, have come together to co-sponsor the South Dakota Anti-Corruption Amendment.”
“For the voters, this is more about power, than party,” said Silver. “Everyone knows the lobbyists and special interests have too much power in government. It’s refreshing to see citizens setting aside their political differences to fight for more power for all citizens.”
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat joined with former governors Republican Bill Owens and fellow Democrats Bill Ritter, Roy Romer and Dick Lamm in endorsing two anti-gerrymandering measures.
An Ohio anti-gerrymandering proposal was approved by voters in May with nearly seventy-five percent of the vote. It united a coalition of strange bedfellows, including Republican Governor John Kasich and the state’s Democratic Party.
Former GOP California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also campaigned for the measures in Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, Michigan and Utah.
“Congress could learn a lot about bipartisanship from these campaigns,” said Dan Krassner, political director of RepresentUs. “Political reformers building a bigger tent is essential to winning. There is a growing movement of leaders putting country over party to unrig the system. The people know that corruption doesn’t wear a party label. With big state wins this year, the people will deliver Congress a mandate to pass anti-corruption reform. The Congress could learn a lot from these state campaigns about how essential bipartisanship is to passing meaningful political reform.”
Additional November 2018 Ballot Measures to Watch
- Ethics advocates are backing New Mexico’s Constitutional Amendment 2, the Independent Ethics Commission Amendment and Florida’s Amendment 12, the Lobbying Restrictions Amendment, to close the revolving door between government and lobbying.
- Campaign finance reform advocates are backing a range of measures in Massachusetts, South Dakota, Denver, Phoenix, Baltimore, and Portland, Oregon. But in Colorado, Amendment 75 could increase campaign contribution limits in some elections. The state legislature in Arizona is attacking the clean elections system there with Proposition 306, Clean Election Account Uses and Commission Rulemaking Measure.
- Term limits could be shortened in Arkansas with Issue 3, State Legislative Term Limits Initiative, but term limits could be increased in Memphis.
- A voter-approved instant runoff voting system is under attack in Memphis with two related measures referred to the ballot by the city council, while Fargo voters will consider adoption of an approval voting system.
- Voting rights groups are advocating for Florida’s Amendment 4, Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative, Maryland’s Question 2, Election-Day Voter Registration Amendment, and measures in Michigan and Nevada to make election systems more secure, block ineligible people from voting, and make voter registration more convenient. Golden could be the first Colorado city to lower the minimum voting age to 16. But some states are attempting to make it harder to vote, including Arkansas with the Issue 2, Voter ID Amendment and North Carolina’s Voter ID Amendment.
9 Major Wins Already in 2018
The movement to unrig the system already has 9 wins so far in 2018. Here’s a look back at this year’s major reform victories:
- March: Automatic voter registration passed in Washington. Tempe voters passed a dark money disclosure ballot measure.
- April: Maryland and New Jersey passed automatic voter registration.
- May: Ohio voters passed anti-gerrymandering. Connecticut joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
- June: Maine voters protected ranked choice voting.
- July: Alaska passed an anti-corruption law.
- August: Massachusetts passed automatic voter registration.
12 Major Wins in 2016
There were a dozen major reform wins at the ballot in 2016 including:
- Automatic voter registration in Alaska.
- Anti-corruption in South Dakota.
- Lobbying reform in San Francisco, California.
- Campaign finance reform in Missouri, Berkeley, California; Howard County, Maryland; and Multnomah County, Oregon.
- Ethics reform constitutional amendment in Rhode Island.
- Ranked choice voting measures in Maine and Benton County, Oregon.
- Calls to overturn Citizens United in Washington and California.
RepresentUs is the nation’s leading right-left anti-corruption group, bringing together conservatives, progressives and everyone in between to pass anti-corruption laws in cities and states around the country.
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