The 50 State Solution initiative is focused on a number of reform issues that can help ease or even dissolve the gridlock that has taken hold at all levels of government. At the heart of all these issues is the need for democratic integrity, which requires transparency and accountability throughout government. This allows voters have an accurate understanding of public decisions and the results of public programs and motivates elected officials to be more responsive.
Elected officials in many states wield great power by being afforded the ability to draw district lines. Yet, a growing trend is to take that power out of partisan hands and place it with independent citizen commissions. Thirteen states have followed this trend, giving citizen commissions the power to determine district lines and another five have advisory commissions. Currently, 10 more states are considering some form of redistricting reform.
States can and should make it easier to register, cast a vote and tally the votes. Reforms that can reduce barriers to participation and increase voter turnout include:
- Automatic Registration—28 states have considered allowing public agencies (like the Department of Motor Vehicles) to automatically register eligible citizens unless they decline
- Online Registration — In 2016 alone, five states have adopted online voter registration and at least 15 others have considered it
- Vote Center Model —In this voting model, every voter is mailed a ballot before Election Day. The ballot can then be mailed or returned to a vote center that is opened days before the election. Thirteen states have adopted this model
- Ranked-Choice Voting — Voters can rank candidates in order of preference rather than voting for a single candidate. The state of Maine is considering using a statewide version of this method. Many local communities are also adopting ranked choice.
Bringing reform to the primary process can help reduce hyper-partisanship. Primary reforms have tried to limit the ways political parties have had significant influence over primary elections. Often voters either have to be a registered member of the political party (closed primary) or ask for ballots from candidates from one party (open primary) to vote for candidates of their choice. In California and Washington, for example voters have adopted a "top two" primary where all candidates running are listed on one ballot and the top two vote getters advance regardless of party.
The shadow of money in politics has contributed to our political paralysis and the public's mistrust of government. Each state has a different system for both how they regulate contributions to state and local races and how and when those contributions are disclosed. A number of other civic and governmental efforts are focused on using civic technology to increase transparency and disclosure.