Weekend Reading on Women's Representation December 14, 2018

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on December 14, 2018

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(Representative Elise Stefanik)
Hello friends,
There was a very interesting story from Roll Call that covers Rep Elise Stefanik's focus on supporting republican women in primaries and securing early contributions from PACs to make their races viable:

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik recruited more than 100 women as the first female head of recruitment at the National Republican Congressional Committee. But only one of them prevailed, with many failing to make it through their primaries.

 

So Stefanik is stepping back from the NRCC to be involved where she thinks it matters.

“I want to play in primaries, and I want to play big in primaries,” she said in a phone interview Friday.

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Michelle Cottle wrote a piece for The New York Times editorial page on Rep Stefanik's efforts to elect more GOP women:

There’s no reason the party can’t take a stand on this, agreed Jean Card, a communications strategist active in Republican politics. “How about: Men and women are different and do approach tasks differently and do approach life differently? That’s a Republican value.”

Ms. Stefanik finds the whole debate over identity politics “outdated.”

“I’m from a different generation,” she said. “I really leaned into talking about the fact that I am a young woman.” At campaign events, she would boast that she “wasn’t what most people picture when they picture a traditional Republican candidate.”

She also aimed to “talk about every issue as a women’s issue.” As an example, she cited medical-device manufacturing, a field that employs a large number of women in her district but doesn’t exactly qualify as a traditional women’s issue. “Some colleagues would say that’s identity politics,” she said. “I think it’s a smarter, more personalized way of communicating.”

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Kate Zernike wrote a piece for The New York Times entitled "Working to Ensure the 'Year of the Woman' Is More Than Just One Year" that mentions ReflectUS - a non-partisan coalition of women's representation organizations:

Across the country, women who mobilized around the 2018 midterms are now mobilizing to make sure that the so-called Year of the Woman is not just that — one year. They want the energy that surged with the women’s marches after President Trump’s inauguration and powered a Democratic wave in November to continue not only through the 2020 presidential campaign, but until women make up at least the same proportion among lawmakers that they do in the general population.

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"How Countries with the highest women participation in government achieved parity"  - this headline caught my eye and echoes the findings of RepresentWomen's soon-to-be-released report on the impact of gender quotas & voting systems on women's representation around the globe:

Next year, the UAE will have one of the world’s highest rates of female participation in government.

A directive from President Sheikh Khalifa called for Emirati women to occupy half the seats on the Federal National Council. This will put it among the top five countries in the world for female representation at this level.

The news was welcomed across the country, with leaders from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, to Sheikha Fatima, chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, praising the move.

“Now the wish of the late Sheikh Zayed has come true ­after empowering Emirati women as they played their prime role in all fields as an effective contributor along with men,” Sheikha Fatima, the Founding Father’s widow.

But the country faced an uphill challenge to achieve gender parity without government assistance. There are only eight women members on the council, representing 20 per cent of the 40 available seats. This puts the UAE in 79th place worldwide.

But seven of those female members were appointed by the Rulers of the emirates after the 2015 elections, while only one of 78 women candidates who stood was elected by the public.

By introducing a target to achieve its aim of gender parity the UAE will by no means be alone, because many countries with the highest levels of women’s participation in parliament made strides by using the same strategy.

According to experts, quotas are the only way to increase participation.

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For all of you following the saga of the recount election in Maine's 2nd congressional district, a Trump-era judge ruled in favor of Ranked Choice Voting this week (see the attached brief that is actually a great read) and there was a terrific editorial by Greg Kesich refuting the various and sundry false & misleading claims about the Ranked Choice Voting system used in the election.
I am pasting in the entire piece because I know some of you may have lingering questions about Ranked Choice Voting which I think this piece will clear up:

I have to admit something: I don’t understand everything about ranked-choice voting.

It’s not the process — I get that. There’s nothing more complicated about picking your second and third choice on a ballot than there is in saying you want strawberry if they’re out of chocolate when someone’s running to the store for ice cream.

And I completely understand what happens next. It’s just a series of runoffs where you eliminate the candidate with the fewest votes after each round. If their supporters expressed a preference for a candidate who’s still in the race, that candidate gets their vote. Simple.

No, the thing I don’t understand is how righteous some people get when they adamantly insist on saying things about ranked-choice voting that just don’t make sense.

Like the claim that it lets some people vote twice.

You hear this a lot from supporters of Bruce Poliquin, who lost his bid for re-election on Nov. 6, despite holding a small lead when the votes were counted in the first round. Poliquin himself claims that his supporters got only one vote, while some of the people who backed independents Tiffany Bond and William Hoar got two votes, costing him the election.

If that had happened, he would be right to be upset. But that’s not what happened. Every voter was treated equally.

Here’s how it worked. Since there was no majority winner, the election went to a runoff, where two independent candidates were eliminated and their ballots were examined for to see if their voters expressed a preference for either of the two leading contenders.

About two-thirds of them did, and their ballots were added to the totals of Poliquin and Democrat Jared Golden.

After the votes were counted, Poliquin picked up support from a little under 5,000 people, adding to his 2,000-vote lead. But Golden got more than 10,000 votes, so he gets a new office in Washington while Poliquin has a lawsuit in federal court.

If somebody had votes counted for two different candidates, doesn’t that meant they had twice as many votes as someone who only voted for one?

No. If that wasn’t your answer, let’s try this review question:

If I ate two hamburgers and you ate one hamburger and one cheeseburger, who ate more burgers?

Despite an insignificant difference in what we ate — a slice of American cheese — both of us have equal cause to consider eating less meat.

The same is true for votes. Every voter had the same opportunity to cast a ballot and every vote was counted.

If you voted for Poliquin in the first round, your vote was counted for Poliquin. After the lower-ranked votes from the eliminated candidate’s ballots were allocated, your vote for Poliquin was counted a second time. You voted twice, both times for Poliquin.

But, like a disappointed toddler, the former congressman and his supporters keep claiming that somebody else got more than them.

Poliquin made a rare public appearance to declare that he “won the constitutional ‘one person, one vote’ election,” which is nonsense, not least because the phrase “one person, one vote” isn’t even in the Constitution. But we do have the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection of the law. That’s a standard this vote counting system meets, whether you like it or not.

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It’s easy to write off all the griping as the kind of thing that people say when their candidate loses as close election. But what’s happening here could be more sinister.

Poliquin isn’t just challenging a controversial election reform. He’s attacking the honesty and trustworthiness of the election process itself.

State Republican officials have been right behind him, sending out a constant stream of misinformation, including photos of unlocked ballot boxes (without saying that they didn’t have ballots in them) and a bizarre collection of affidavits from 1st Congressional District residents who are sure, or at least pretty sure, that they voted for Poliquin in the 2nd District race.

That would be impossible, according to the secretary of state’s office, and it didn’t happen, according to the local election clerks. But that’s not good enough for the Republican propaganda machine, which keeps trying to degrade public confidence in elections they didn’t win.

Maybe this hostility is just an acknowledgment that Republicans are afraid they can’t win statewide races unless the opposition is divided into multiple camps. Rather than trying to create an agenda that appeals to a majority of voters, they want their base to stay angry and attack the election process itself.

If that’s what’s going on, I guess I do understand the opposition to ranked-choice voting after all.

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Finally, there was a great editorial on Macleans entitled "Canada should elect a gender-balanced Parliament in 2019" I am ready for headlines like this in the US:

To Canadians, American boasts of 2018 being the “Year of the Woman” may seem a bit overdramatic. Our female federal legislators already exceed their U.S. counterparts’ gender ratio 26 per cent to 23 per cent. And those historic firsts? Old news. Yasmin Ratansi became Canada’s first Muslim woman MP in 2004. And our first Indigenous female MP was Ethel Blondin-Andrew, elected in 1988. Setting aside any cross-border rivalry, however, the recent U.S. results suggest something bigger may be afoot.

Mexico’s general elections this past summer, for example, delivered a nearly perfectly gender-balanced parliament, the result of a 2014 constitutional amendment requiring parties to field an equal number of male and female candidates. Here at home, provincial elections last year in Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario all saw record numbers of female candidates running for office. And the newly elected Vancouver city council consists of eight women and three men.

Does all this signal a permanent and rapid shift toward equal representation for women in Canadian politics? The 2019 federal election will tell the tale. The biggest hurdle typically lies at the nomination stage, since ample academic evidence suggests voters do not discriminate between male and female candidates come voting time. And each of the three main parties takes a different route to improving female representation. The NDP is typically the most aggressive in recruiting female candidates, while the Conservatives eschew a formal policy in favour of merit and mentoring. The federal Liberals now require a documented search for women candidates before open nomination meetings can be held.

There is always lots more to report on but I am dashing out the door - as usual!
Warmly,
Cynthia
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