Posted on Blog on April 14, 2017
Louise Davidson-Schmich had an excellent piece on Vox's political science blog Mischiefs of Faction on the impact of quotas and voting systems on the election of women: The comparatively low number of women Congress is surprising, given that the United States scores relatively well on other measures of women’s well-being, such as the United Nations’ Gender Development Index. What accounts for this contradiction? Comparative research indicates that the primary determinant of women’s representation in legislatures worldwide involves the ways candidates are selected to run for office and the structure of the ballot upon which they appear. Since the 1980s, the use of gender quotas for elective offices has diffused throughout the world, driving the increase in women’s political representation (see figure 2). Quotas involve setting percentages or numbers for the political representation of specific groups, in this case women and, at times, men.
Posted on Blog on April 07, 2017
The Senate passed the war resolution on April 4, with six votes against. The House took up the measure the next day. Rankin stayed at her new apartment until late in the afternoon, agonizing over the vote. Alice Paul, head of the National Woman’s Party, sat with her. She told Rankin that she had an obligation as the first woman in Congress to give voice to her woman’s conscience. It would be a tragedy, Paul said, to vote for war. In the evening Rankin appeared at the Capitol. The debate was dragging on, and April 5 became April 6. At 3 a.m., the roll was called. “Miss Rankin was evidently under great mental distress,” the New York Times reported. “Her appearance was that of a woman on the verge of a breakdown.” Would she betray her cause by voting against war? Or would she betray her conscience by voting in favor? She remained silent, and the clerk moved on. Rep. Joseph Cannon, the former Republican House speaker, came up to her and told her to vote as her conscience dictated. “You represent the womanhood of the country,” he said. The clerk went through the roll again. “Miss Rankin,” he called out twice. She stood, clasped the back of the seat in front of her. “I want to stand by my country — but I cannot vote for war,” she said. Does that, the clerk asked, mean no? She nodded, dry-eyed, and sat down.
Posted on News Coverage on April 04, 2017
Women today are a majority of voters, but progress toward political parity is virtually stagnant. Fewer than 1 in 5 House members are women, only four governors are women, and women’s share of state legislative seats has never reached even 25 percent. The United States now ranks 104th among nations for representation of women in national legislatures — a steep decline from 44th in 1995. At this rate, parity is at best centuries away. Why so little progress? There are several reasons, including cultural attitudes and bias. But a there’s an oft-overlooked barrier: our voting rules. When Rankin broke through the representation barrier, Montana elected two House seats statewide rather than in separate districts. 1916 was a tough year for Republicans in Montana, with Democratic presidential nominee Woodrow Wilson easily winning the state. But Rankin won by finishing second. A year later the legislature carved the state into districts, gerrymandering Rankin into a more Democratic one. She unsuccessfully sought a Senate seat.
Posted on News Coverage on April 02, 2017
Most Americans don’t realize it, but yesterday, April 2 the US quietly celebrated the centennial of an event that is as auspicious as Martin Luther King’s birthday or July 4, Independence Day. On April 2, 1917, Jeannette Rankin from Montana was sworn in as the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress. Her election occurred three years before women won the right to vote. For advocates of greater political equality, Representative Rankin’s election was a giant step forward toward the revolution that became the 20th Amendment to the US Constitution.
Posted on Blog on March 31, 2017
This weekend will mark the centennial of women's representation in Congress. Republican Jeannette Rankin was elected from a multi-winner district in Montana in November, 1916 and was finally allowed to take her seat on April 2, 1917. Democrats, whose presidential candidate carried the state by a huge margin, then gerrymandered her out of office by reverting to single winner districts. A century of evidence confirms this pattern: women are far more likely to run and win in multi-winner districts in cities, state legislatures and historically, when they were used in House elections. Rankin was even a fan of ranked choice voting - I am not making that up!
Posted on News Coverage on March 27, 2017
The idea for this panel came after the presidential election last year when many women felt a call to action. We had a fabulous roster of speakers including, Erin Villardi, founder and director of VoteRunLead; Rina Shah, political strategist and media commentator; Cynthia Richie Terrell, founder and director of Representation20/20 and co-founder of FairVote; and Tremaine S. Wright, a New York State Assemblywoman serving the 56th District in Brooklyn, NY.
Posted on Blog on March 22, 2017
In 2016, Representation2020, the Center for Responsive Politics, and Common Cause examined the break down of PAC giving by candidate gender, to find how PACs donated their money to women candidates. Examining U.S. House and Senate elections from 2010–2014 (and with the help of some 2016 data) we found that some PACs were more equitable at giving money to women candidates than others. So what PACs gave the most to women in the 2016 election cycle and what PACs gave the least?
Posted on Blog on March 03, 2017
Great news for women's representation fans! Eighteen states now have ranked choice voting legislation pending and just today the Utah state house passed RCV with support from 75% of the republican members and all of the democrats - illustrating that rules changes that benefit everyone are winnable & have bipartisan support!