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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation January 20th, 2023

Dear readers,

Ranked Choice Voting Day is coming up on Monday, January 23rd! You may have seen that we’ve been counting down to RCV Day on our social media this week and providing some great ways to take action. We’re looking forward to bringing you the latest data in women’s representation and ranked choice voting next week.

Will 2023 Be the Year of Ranked Choice Voting?

We are only two weeks into 2023 and Adam Edelman of NBC reports that lawmakers in 14 states have already introduced 27 bills proposing ranked choice voting models. This is great news for women candidates everywhere! Our research shows that ranked choice voting levels the playing field for women candidates by promoting civil campaigns, eliminating vote splitting as well as "strategic voting," and saving money.

Some bills propose implementing the system for statewide and federal elections; others propose limiting its use to primary elections. Bills in some states propose ranked-choice voting only for local elections, while others offer a temporary pilot system that would test the use of ranked-choice voting for a fixed number of years.

The variety and quantity underscore a growing trend in elections across the country: ranked-choice voting is clearly on the rise.

“This year we’re already seeing a lot of state legislation, and we’re going to see a lot more,” said Rob Richie, the president and CEO of FairVote, a national nonpartisan group that has for decades worked to advance the use of ranked-choice voting in the U.S. “Some of it will pass.”

In Virginia, for example, four state lawmakers from both major parties last week introduced bills that would advance ranked-choice voting in the state. Two would allow it for presidential primaries, starting in 2024, one would allow it for any primary elections and one would expand the state’s current ranked-choice pilot program for use in all local elections.

New Zealand PM to Step Down in Shocking Resignation

"I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It's that simple," Ardern announced during her resignation speech.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced her resignation following a tumultuous 5 years in office. When she took office in 2017 at age 37, she became the youngest female head of government in the world, which came with its own unique set of challenges. Ardern's resignation reminds us of the structural barriers women face, particularly while serving in office, and why we need systemic change that allows women to participate fully in the political process.

In 2018, Ardern became just the second elected world leader to give birth while holding office. Later that year, she brought her infant daughter to the floor of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

She notched up center-left victories while right-wing populism was on the rise globally, pushing through a bill targeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, overseeing a ban on assault weapons, and largely keeping the coronavirus out of New Zealand for 18 months...

Many observers said that sexist attitudes played a role in the anger directed at Ardern...

“But I am not leaving because it was hard. Had that been the case I probably would have departed two months into the job,” she said. “I am leaving because with such a privileged role comes responsibility. The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead, and also, when you are not.”

Massachusetts Swears in First Black Woman Attorney General

Campbell during her victory speech: “I am so ready to get to work on behalf of the Commonwealth and behalf of all of you as the next attorney general."

Andrea Campbell, who previously held a seat on the Boston City Council, was sworn in on Wednesday as the 45th AG of Massachusetts. Last September, RepresentWomen's Communications Manager Alissa Bombardier Shaw and Research Associate Steph Scaglia wrote an explainer as part of Ms.'s Women Saving Democracy project about the importance of State Attorneys General. This great article spotlights Campbell now that she is taking the place of Maura Healy, who became Governor of the state. 

Campbell, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Boston last year, defeated Republican candidate and trial attorney Jay McMahon in the November election. She had won the endorsement of Attorney General Maura Healey, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

Campbell has said she plans to tackle a series of issues including from targeting wage theft and defending seniors to protecting tenants and homeowners, pushing for what she called commonsense gun laws, and supporting anti-violence organizations.

Campbell grew up in Boston and attended Princeton University and UCLA Law School and served as deputy legal counsel to former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.

Massachusetts had a number of historic firsts in terms of women's representation this year. Our friends at the Barbara Lee Family Foundation reminded us this week how we're getting closer to a representative democracy, with MA as the example.

Yale Student Group Pushes for Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked choice voting helps women win elections. As outlined in our Why Women Won in 2021 report, women’s representation on the New York City Council increased drastically after implementing RCV. In an article by Yale News, student group Elm City RCV is advocating for the passage of of a newly proposed bill that would implement ranked choice voting on the local, state and federal level. The bill is proposed by Representative Keith Denning of the Connecticut state legislature. 

“I think that there are a considerable number of people in Connecticut who support other parties, or other factions within a party, and just don’t have a chance to express that,” said Michael Garman ’25, chair of student group Elm City RCV and a former staff photographer for the News. “If you look at the cities that have adopted it, whose diversity of identities and ideas is much closer to the general population, it also boosts turnout — especially among younger people, which is a major problem here in New Haven.”

Elm City RCV spent much of the fall semester spreading information about ranked-choice voting on campus, attempting to drum up support for the proposed electoral system throughout the New Haven community. They collected hundreds of signatures from students stating their support for the policy and indicating interest in joining advocacy efforts…

Proponents of ranked-choice voting say the system will improve voter turnout and promote fairness for voters and candidates across ideologies, allowing those dissatisfied with mainline party candidates the option to elect third-party candidates and those outside of the party’s mainstream.

Maryland Swears in First South Asian Woman Lieutenant Governor

Congratulations to Aruna Miller for becoming Maryland's first woman of color to serve as lieutenant governor! With this position, we hope that she and Governor Wes Moore will appoint an inclusive gender balanced cabinet in the state. Miller shared her plans moving forward and the experiences that led her to where she is today, which serve as a reminder to imagine a more representative democracy:

Miller assured that Moore and Miller will fight for equity, something she didn't have coming to America as a foreigner.

"It was always about having the courage to be my authentic self in my space," Miller said. "We see you and we will fight for you. We will address the inequities of the past and build a Maryland where everyone will thrive...

Miller became a U.S. citizen in her 30s and started volunteering during elections, and that got her some unexpected attention. People in her circle started asking her to run for office.

"So when an opening did come up in 2010, to run for Maryland State delegate, some of the activists reached out to me and said, hey, we'd love for you to run for office. And I listened very politely. I said, Thank you. Thank you, but no thanks," said Miller. "So I hung up. And that's where my husband and I had a heart-to-heart conversation. He's like, why would you say that? I said 'because I'm going to lose' and he said, 'what if you win?'"

Representative Barbara Lee announced her run for Senate. A number of women including Rep. Lee are making plans to run for the seat that Senator Feinstein is retiring from. We'll be keeping our eye out on all women candidates for this race!


Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the “Parity in Politics” virtual event put on by Montgomery Women. Our goal was to discuss systems reforms to accelerate the pace of progress toward gender parity in the political sector. Michelle Whittaker, RepresentWomen board member and at-large member of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, gave what one guest described as "the most cogent description of ranked choice voting" she’d ever heard. We also got to hear Delegate Lesley Lopez who represents District 39 in the Maryland House of Delegates. It was a poignant reminder of the barriers women legislators face, as Delegate Lopez discussed the priorities of the women’s caucus while having to juggle raising her toddler. It was a lively, invigorating conversation and I’m grateful to Montgomery Women for facilitating.

Delivering our 2023 Calendars of Women Leaders has been a hit! We've mailed about 400 of them and hand delivered almost 100 more. I'm grateful for the wonderful postal service and RepresentWomen board member Amber McReynolds, the sole woman on the USPS board of governors, to help make this all happen.

That's all for this week.


P.S. Happy belated birthday to the terrific Michelle ObamaShe famously said, "No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens." RepresentWomen is grateful for her service and always using her voice to empower women. 

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