Weekend Reading on Women's Representation August 26, 2022

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on August 26, 2022

Thanks to Erin Vilardi and her team at VoteRunLead for these great graphics and for providing a 21st century frame - and rallying call - to Women's Equality Day commemorations!

Women's Equality Day was established in 1973 by Congress - at the request of Representative Bella Abzug - to commemorate passage of the 19th Amendment. Efforts to elevate the importance of women's equality help to change the narrative about the importance of women's equality, but as Erin Vilardi, CEO of VoteRunLead writes, we must move from recognizing the importance of women's equality to embracing the imperative for women's leadership:

"While the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote on paper, voter suppression through poll taxes, ID requirements, and voter intimidation excluded women of color for generations.

In light of recent desperate tactics to keep political power away from people of color, poor people, women, and other marginalized communities, we know that equality isn’t enough. We need a new majority because when there are more of us in office—more women and more women of color, democracy is protected and expanded. No one is going to do it for us so we're going to do it for ourselves. We're not just demanding equality—we’re demanding the majority. That’s why we are renaming this holiday Women's Majority Day."

NYC’s District 10 selects Goldman with a Plurality - Steph Scaglia

On Tuesday, New York City’s 10th District selected former federal prosecutor Dan Goldman as their Democratic Candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives out of a crowded field. Goldman edged out Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou by a bit over 1,000 votes (2% of the vote), and won with a plurality of 25.8% according to this story in Politico.
"Goldman emerged as the frontrunner in polls, and opponents quickly sought to paint him as too moderate for the district. But the city’s institutional left split their support among several of those candidates.

An heir to the Levi Strauss & Co. fortune, Goldman poured $4 million from his own personal wealth into the race and received a cash infusion from family and company associates early on. Those deep pockets allowed him to blanket the airwaves with ads.

He won the endorsement of the New York Times, an influential nod in a district with many affluent liberals.
Niou leaned on door-knocking and phone banking — key elements for a sleepy August primary. The furthest left in a field where multiple candidates competed for the progressive lane, she won the endorsement of the Working Families Party. She could still run on the WFP’s ballot line in the general election."

The vote splitting that occurred in District 10 clearly demonstrates how a reform such as ranked choice voting, which is used in NYC local elections, could have led to not just a different outcome, but a candidate who won with a majority, rather than only 25% of the vote. In order for New Yorkers to be well represented, system reforms are clearly needed.

Lea Webb wins primary for state senate in NY

In New York’s 52nd district, however, Lea Webb, a former city council member, will advance to the general for District 52’s Senate seat. Unofficial results show her having a majority of nearly 59% of the vote.

Papua New Guinea elects first female Member of Parliament in a decade - Steph Scaglia

Rufina Peter, elected governor of PNG’s Central Province, will make her the eighth female MP to ever hold office in the country. However, the race fought was dangerous and chaotic.
"After four weeks of an election process plagued by violence, chaos, missing ballots, incomplete voter rolls and fraud allegations, Peter secured enough preferences to unseat the sitting member, high-profile businessman Robert Agarobe.

The result triggered a cascade of social media congratulations and relief that after five years of all-male rule, and 10 years since a woman was elected, at least one of the 118 seats of the next PNG parliament would be held by a woman.

“Rufina is intelligent. She stands for everything we call democracy and good governance,” says Dr Orovu Sepoe, a political scientist and expert on women’s activism in PNG."

FairVote’s Jeremy Seitz-Brown highlights the positive impact ranked choice voting could have on PNG’s future elections. Notably, PNG has used RCV before and research shows it had positive effects on reducing violence:

"It is worth highlighting the role that RCV can play in helping to reduce violence. Each member of parliament has the opportunity to spend money within their district from a District Service Improvement (DSIP) fund (Wood et al 2022). That means there are direct financial benefits to winning a seat in parliament, creating incentives for corruption and violence. RCV counteracts these incentives for violence with incentives for peace. It normalizes campaigning across an entire district with a cooperative attitude in hopes of winning second- and third-choice rankings. This effect can help break down rigid divisions between political groups and ensures members of parliament are accountable to a broader set of voters.

Ultimately, RCV is just one of many factors that contribute to a successful election. Outside observers have suggested several potential electoral reforms, but PNG’s people are best-positioned to drive future solutions. Hopefully, they can identify the root causes of violence and corruption and adopt policies that can promote peace and integrity."

Illinois Pre-1980 and Proportional Voting: Better Outcomes for Women and Minorities - Alissa Bombardier Shaw

Illinois House of Representatives, In Session

In his DemocracySOS piece, FairVote Senior Advisor Steven Hill dove into the impact of cumulative voting in three-seat districts in Illinois on political and representational outcomes. With powerful quotes from a plethora of Illinois representatives across the political and racial spectrum, it is clear that this system profoundly affected these elected officials. The bipartisan support for an electoral system that gives voter a real say in who their representative is and reduces polarization is a clear sign of the positive power of ranked choice voting and proportional representation:

"Proportional representation didn’t serve only political minorities like Republicans in liberal areas and Democrats in conservative areas. It also helped women and racial minorities win representation…

Barbara Flynn Currie, Democrat, served for forty years as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives:  “As a result of proportional representation, my district became the first in Illinois history to send two women from the same party to the state legislature, myself and Carol Moseley Braun.”

Currie was the longest serving woman in the Illinois legislature, and for twenty-two of her forty years, she was the House majority leader.

Adeline Geo-Karis, a Republican legislator elected under both PR and winner-take-all systems:  Proportional representation “made it easier for women and minorities to get elected…”

When you listen to these Illinois legislators, Republicans and Democrats alike, one quality stands out: their belief that the other side deserved representation. They took seriously the Golden Rule of Politics: “Give unto others the representation you would have them give unto you.” They believed doing so was good for their state’s welfare and good for the political process."

 

Primaries Are in Full Swing: Results from Florida, New York, and Runoffs in Oklahoma - Alissa Bombardier Shaw

Seat type graphic from RepresentWomen
The Center for American Women in Politics has shared some notable results for women in the primaries taking place this week. While they will continue to update the results as more votes come in, they have provided some initial news:
"Current U.S. Representative Val Demings (D-FL) won the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in a general election contest currently rated as “Lean Republican” by Cook Political Report. If elected, she would be the first Democratic woman and the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Florida. There are currently no Black women in the U.S. Senate.

Madison Horn (D-OK) won the runoff election for the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-OK). She joinsformerU.S. Representative Kendra Horn (D), who won the Democratic nomination for the open-seat U.S. Senate contest in Oklahoma in the June primary. Both contests are currently rated as “Solid Republican” by Cook Political Report. If elected, either woman would be the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate from Oklahoma. Madison Horn would also be the first Native American woman to represent Oklahoma in Congress as well as the first Native American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Incumbent U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) was defeated in her bid for re-election in NY-12, where she was challenged by incumbent U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY) in an incumbent v. incumbent contest. Maloney has served in the U.S. House since 1993. Learn more about redistricting and the 2022 elections at our fact sheet, Redistricting Effects on Women Congressional Incumbents. With Maloney’s defeat, there are now 18 (13D, 5R) women U.S. House incumbents not returning in 2023 due to retirement, primary defeats, seeking other office, and other reasons.”
RepresentWomen’s research has shown that the type of seat in an election is a strong measure of how a woman candidate will do in the race. This relationship shows a clear barrier for women that is baked into the structure of our government. Looking forward to the general election, the women candidates not in open-seat races who were able to advance through the primaries will undoubtedly face immense challenges winning this November.

Women of Color Likely to Benefit from President Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness Plan - Alissa Bombardier Shaw 

Image from the New York Times

During his campaign, Biden promised to provide student loan relief to students across the nation and now has finally made good on his word. While the plan will not completely eliminate the existing debt for many, it is targeted in a somewhat equitable way. Women, specifically women of color, who often are paid less than their male counterparts, will benefit financially from the plan as there is an income limit to who can receive loan forgiveness:

"The average borrower has student loan debt of more than $30,000, but the number is much higher for women of color. On average, Black women owe $41,466, Native American women owe $36,184 and Pacific Islander women owe $38,747 a year after college graduation compared to White women, who owe $33,851, according to the American Association of University Women. Asian-American women and Latinas fare better shortly after college, carrying just under $30,000 in debt, but that changes if they enter graduate school.

Pursuing a postgraduate degree leaves women of all races with at least $55,000 in student debt. Black women have the most debt, $75,085, after graduate school. Graduate school does not improve the gender wage gap; women earn 81 percent of what men make overall.

Recipients of Pell Grants, a financial award based on need, are from families with incomes of less than $60,000 annually, according to the White House press office. Pell Grant recipients make up more than 60 percent of the borrower population and comprise about 27 million borrowers eligible for $20,000 in relief. Black students are twice as likely to be Pell Grant recipients than their White counterparts."

Women's Political Empowerment in Germany

 

Finally, there was a interesting piece about the path to women's equality in Germany:

"This year, Germany’s scores in the four key dimensions were relatively similar to last year’s report. In the Health and Survival category, Germany received the exact same score as last year (0,972), although this was enough for Germany to rise in the rankings, from 75th last year to 70th this year.

In the Political Empowerment category, Germany achieved a score of 0,550, which is a noticeable improvement from last year and earned it a jump from 10th to eighth place in the rankings compared to last year. One of the reasons for this is Angela Merkel, whose reign as chancellor came to an end last year after 16 years. This saw Germany perform particularly well in the “years with female / male head of state” metric, in which it ranked 5th out of the 146 countries."

That's all for this week my friends,
Cynthia
P.S. My garden is flourishing & today my daughter and I are making two batches of pickles!