During my internship at FairVote I have learned an absurd amount about fair representation (proportional representation in particular) and bettered my research skills. I graduated from Mount Allison University (a small liberal-arts university in Canada) this May and was fortunate to run across FairVote and apply for a research internship here. I’ve always been interested in electoral reform, and FairVote was the perfect opportunity to learn more about voting systems such as ranked choice voting and proportional representation in the United States.
The largest project I undertook was a report on the history of proportional representation in the United States. The report outlines various cities and states that have adopted proportional representation, and their reasons for doing so. The help of the other members of FairVote was invaluable, and they were always excited to step in and answer any questions I had. For example, when I was searching for Kathleen Barber’s Proportional Representation and Election Reform in Ohio, the research department knew exactly what book I was looking for, and other resources that would help. Looking through the FairVote archives and academic sources for the history of PR in the U.S. was fascinating. It is remarkable that PR has been used so extensively in the United States. I had no idea the United States had this history of fair representation, so it was very exciting to dig into these issues. Particularly fascinating was Illinois, which used cumulative voting for over a hundred years successfully. Not only was this research intriguing, but it also sharpened my research skills. I found myself better organizing my sources and ideas, and more quickly accessing reliable sources.
I had the opportunity to follow my interests so with the Canadian election taking place I wrote two blog posts about Canadian electoral reform, specifically regarding the two referendums for the adoption of single-transferable vote in British Columbia and the possibility of reforming the currently appointed Canadian Senate. The freedom to delve into a topic I am passionate about was invaluable experience. Especially helpful was the editing process which challenged me to become a better writer. The process pushed me to come up with new ways of forming arguments and mature my writing style.
My time at FairVote was exceptional and I’m excited to use the skills I developed here in my career ahead. DJ Livermore is a 2015 Intern at FairVote. Do you want to apply for a FairVote internship? Find more information here: http://www.fairvote.org/who-we-are/internships-and-employment/internships/