Podcast: Blazing The Trail for Equal Representation with the Independent Voter Project

IVC Media, LLC Founder and President Chad Peace was featured on The Dodi Connection, a podcast from host Mr. Wowzer that offers engaging debates on a broad spectrum of topics, from Cannabis to business to government. And on this episode, the discussion is on the state of primary elections in the US, including independent voter exclusion and efforts to provide equal representation.

Mr. Peace is also the lead attorney for the Independent Voter Project (IVP), which authored California's nonpartisan top-two primary system for state, legislative, and non-presidential federal elections. Under this system, all voters and candidates participate on a single primary ballot and the top two vote-getters move on to the general election.

IVP, one of the principal sponsors of the IVN Newtork along with the Foundation for Independent Voter Education, strives to engage nonpartisan voters and educate them on how the election system in much of the country is designed to serve the private interests of political parties rather than the public interest of putting voters first.

The way that the system has been structured by members of both major political parties at every institutional level forces voters to choose between two options and only two options: Republican or Democrat.

"Some people will take that as anti-party. I'm not trying to blow up the parties," said Peace. "If McDonalds and Burger King were the only two places that could sell cheeseburgers, would that be right?"

IVP leads reform efforts in California and supports other initiatives across the country to provide voters fairer, more accountable elections. It has also spearheaded litigation in two states.

In New Jersey, it challenged the state's closed partisan primary system. In California, the group seeks a remedy to the state's complex and confusing semi-closed presidential primaries which do not provide voters the same equal and fair access to elections as the top-two system for every other election. 

"Take a state like New Jersey, half of the voters are registered as independent. Not half of the potentially. These are the people who took the step of 'I want to register, I want to vote,'" said Peace. 

"The first stage of the process is the primary. You go there to vote for the person who will represent the Democratic Party or the person to represent the Republican Party. So, what does the state of New Jersey say to the 50% of people who said 'I want to vote. I am going to register. I just don't want to be part of the two parties'? Too bad, you can't vote."

Both lawsuits made it to the US Supreme Court. The justices chose not to take up the cases. Peace and Mr. Wowzer dive deep into this, IVP's work, and the issue of fair and meaningful voting rights, representation, and what it means to have a voice in US elections. Check out the full conversation on these topics and more above. 

Photo Credit: Ryan Hodnett / Wikimedia Commons

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Photo Credit: Ryan Hodnett / Wikimedia Commons