After a challenging year for our nation, December provided a glimmer of hope to those of us seeking a healthier democracy here in Wisconsin. On December 14th, a bipartisan group of legislators presented their rationale for introducing a Final Five Voting bill to the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Elections. The co-authors who spoke were Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc), Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick), and Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee.)
The legislators’ remarks were followed by a series of compelling speakers who emphasized the different ways that this reform would improve the political process here in Wisconsin. The speakers included:
- Sara Eskrich, Democracy Found Action Executive Director;
- Katherine Gehl, co-author of The Politics Industry book and former CEO of Gehl Foods;
- Austin Ramirez, co-founder of Democracy Found Action;
- Joe Heim, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at UW La Crosse;
- Bill Berrien and Kevin Miller from Veterans for Political Innovation;
- and Josh Daniels, Utah County Clerk, who provided insights from his experience using a ranked ballot system in conservative Utah.
For those who are unfamiliar with Final-Five Voting, as a refresher, this would involve a nonpartisan top-five primary followed by an instant run-off general election. If either or both of those concepts are unfamiliar to you, I encourage you to watch this YouTube video featuring Katherine Gehl explaining the mechanics in greater detail:
In her own words, “Final-Five Voting is designed to open the general election to more competitors, leading to healthy competition to serve the public interest. I call this ‘free market politics,’ as it delivers the best of what healthy competition delivers in any industry: innovation, results, and accountability.”
The overarching goal of this nonpartisan reform is to give voters more power, so that citizens can elect public officials who are motivated to be more responsive to all of their constituents’ needs rather than narrow, often self-serving, partisan interests.
During the course of the committee hearing, there was a wide range of questions posed by the senators present. In many cases, reasonable doubts were raised as well as praises for the concepts being presented. Notably, though, from one senator in particular, there was a fairly aggressive attempt to try to undermine the arguments and motivations for this reform. I will say that, as a witness to the hearing, I was impressed by the composure maintained by the non-partisan reformers who were present. As mentioned above, those advocating for this reform come from across the political spectrum. The dignity with which these individuals carried themselves, even when presented with questions that were clearly designed to derail their thought processes, should be commended. As someone who frequently has nonpartisan reform at the top of his mind, I was inspired by our fellow Wisconsinites doing their absolute best to help fix our broken democracy here in Wisconsin.
While the hearing itself is behind the Wisconsin Eye paywall at:
you can listen to one of the co-authors of the bill, Senator Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), explain the benefits of Final-Five Voting in his interview with Wisconsin Eye below:
If you didn’t gather this already, it’s big news that a nonpartisan reform has made its way into the Wisconsin legislature. Elected officials from both parties are interested in discussing this kind of change. Now it is up to all of us, the great people of Wisconsin, to keep up the momentum and to let our elected leaders know that we want our state to serve as a model state, once again, for how American democracy can function at its best.
Dr Michael Leasure is a board-certified physician specializing in Family Medicine. Dr Leasure is passionate about fixing our broken political system and spends a significant amount of his volunteer hours on efforts to remind Americans that much more unites us than divides us and that we are stronger together.
Dr. Leasure and his family make their home in the Madison, WI area.