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Democracy

We envision a government responsive to the best interests of the people it serves and held accountable when it is not. We believe the widespread dysfunction and polarization observed in government today is a symptom of a deeper problem: an unfair system of rules and practices designed for and protected by people in power to keep them in power.

Our current electoral system optimizes for incumbent protection and stifles competition. Gerrymandered districts, where politicians pick their voters, mean that the majority of general elections are uncompetitive, making primaries the determinative election in most races. Half of all states have closed primaries, where only registered members of one political party are able to vote. As a result, politicians focus solely on pandering to this small and unrepresentative sliver of the electorate. Furthermore, any third party or independent candidate who wishes to bring a fresh voice and perspective to a system so many Americans deem broken is quickly labeled a spoiler that will siphon votes away from one dominant political party in order to deliver victory to the other.

We identify, implement, and defend promising solutions such as open primaries, ranked-choice voting, and independent redistricting commissions that lead to a more responsive and accountable government. These reforms promote healthy competition and align incentives by rewarding politicians who appeal to all voters in the electorate — not just a small, partisan base. By changing the incentives, we will ultimately have a government capable of delivering meaningful policy solutions that improve the lives of all Americans.

91%
Incumbent re-election rate in the U.S. House (2018) Source
59
Number of competitive U.S. House races in 2020, out of 435 seats Source
26.3M
Number of non-party affiliated voters who are excluded from participating in primary elections Source
9.2M
Number of voting-age citizens who live in U.S. jurisdictions that have adopted ranked-choice voting Source

Grants

Arnold Ventures funds projects to understand problems and identify policy solutions.

Map of the U.S. made of Arnold Ventures icons