Teach-In: Ranked Choice Voting
"One simple change” to improve American Democracy
(virtual event on March 24, 2022)
America is approaching the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The democratic foundations of the unique republican government established here have withstood the test of time and shown a remarkable ability to expand and adapt. This is especially true in periods when people awaken to the possibilities for more freedom. We are now in just such a time.
We enjoy limitless options and abundance in the marketplace, unprecedented opportunity and platforms for self expression, and increasing diversity in media. In this environment some Americans are seeking avenues that hold the promise of more choice and a stronger voice in politics. One option to deliver that is through "one simple change" to how election ballots are filled out and counted: Ranked Choice Voting (RCV).
This video shows the panel of distinguished members of the Harvard community (listed below) participating in this ClassACT HR79 Teach-in. They discussed questions about Ranked Choice Voting such as:
- What is RCV and how does it work?
- How does RCV give voters more choice and a stronger voice?
- Are there other benefits to RCV?
- Where has RCV been used and what have the results been like?
- What are the common critiques of RCV? Are there hidden risks?
- What can we do to expedite the transition to RCV?
Host Rachel Kemp (HR79, HKS00) is a Vice President at Pickwick Capital Partners with six years of investment banking experience and over twenty years of managerial and financial experience. In addition to her other activities, Ms. Kemp specializes in Opportunity Zone Investment initiatives, alternative asset financing and family office investments. Prior to joining Pickwick, Ms. Kemp was the CEO at Arcova Technologies, Inc., a consumer focused predictive analytics company. She is a recognized economic development expert and co-developer of a Gross State Product (GSP) analytics tool for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Earlier in her career, Ms. Kemp served as the Assistant Secretary of Economic Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Rachel is an advisory board member of Rank the Vote, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that co-founds and coaches-up volunteer-led organizations to grow support for Ranked Choice Voting.
Avi Green (HKS99) is Director of Strategy for the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School. Previously he was Executive Director of MassVote and then the Scholars Strategy Network. In 2011’s redistricting process, Avi helped lead a nonpartisan coalition that resulted in a bipartisan vote for new district maps that doubled the number of majority-minority districts in Massachusetts. In addition, he conducted the first election audit in Massachusetts history. Avi has served on the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission and the Massachusetts Local Elections District Review Commission.
Ruth Greenwood (HLS) is the Director of the Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School. She engages in litigation and advocacy on a variety of election law cases, while training the next generation of election lawyers. Ruth litigated two partisan gerrymandering cases from the trial level to the Supreme Court of the United States, Gill v. Whitford and Rucho v. Common Cause, and, with her team, won the first ever tri-coalition claim under the federal Voting Rights Act in Holloway v. City of Virginia Beach. In addition, Ruth has advised dozens of state advocates on drafting and implementing independent redistricting commissions, state voting rights acts, and adopting ranked choice voting. Ruth was previously the Co-Director of Voting Rights and Redistricting at the Campaign Legal Center and Lead Counsel for Voting Rights at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Jeanne Kempthorne (HR78) is a former civil litigator, federal and state prosecutor, and criminal defense attorney. She has strong interests in public integrity, having served as chief of the Public Corruption Unit at the US Attorney’s Office in Boston and on the State Ethics Commission. She was a long-time member and vice-chair of the board of Common Cause Massachusetts, focusing her efforts on open and accountable government, redistricting reform, and election modernization. She currently serves on the leadership team of Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts, focusing on endorsements of candidates to state legislative offices and on criminal justice reform. She is a member of the new Berkshire (MA) chapter of the League of Women Voters.
Natalia Linos (HR03, HSPH12) is the Executive Director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard where she has helped build a new research area for the FXB Center focused on structural racism and health. In 2020, and in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Natalia ran for Congress to represent Massachusetts fourth Congressional district. She is currently a Town Meeting Member in Brookline and serves on the Board of the Environmental League of Massachusetts. Prior to her role at Harvard, Natalia worked at the United Nations for a decade leading UNDP’s work at the nexus of health and environment, and served as a speechwriter and policy specialist at the United Nations in New York and in Beirut, Lebanon. She also worked at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as science advisor to the Commissioner.
Eric Maskin (HR72, PhD76) is a Nobel prize-winning economist and the Adams University Professor at Harvard University. From 2000-2011, he was the Albert O. Hirschman Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Maskin has worked in diverse areas of economic theory, such as game theory, the economics of incentives, and contract theory. His current research projects include comparing different electoral rules, examining the causes of inequality, and studying coalition formation. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Econometric Society, and the European Economic Association, and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He was president of the Econometric Society in 2003.
Bill McKibben (HR82) is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the "alternative Nobel." His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement. The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize.
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