The good policy decisions that lead to greater sustainability rely on a healthy democracy. But politics too frequently derail good and popular ideas that even the majority of people support. 

Sightline’s nonpartisan Democracy and Elections program advances fixes for Cascadia’s electoral systems that put more leaders in office willing to fight for what most people want: homes they can afford near where they work, learn, and play; good-paying jobs that support their families; clean, efficient transportation options; and clean air and water in a healthy climate. 

To this end, we envision a democracy that is more fair and inclusive, and that honestly reflects the values and needs of “we the people.” We focus on a variety of solutions, including stifling extreme partisanship through open primaries, allowing voters more freedom to express their true preferences through ranked choice voting and proportional representation, and expanding and protecting voting access for all. 

Meet the team

Jeannette Lee, Alaska Research Director. Follow her on Twitter, @JLee907.
Jay Lee, Senior Research Associate
Alice Buckley, Senior Researcher and Montana Lead
Shannon Grimes, Researcher

Select projects and resources 

Alaska: Better representation through open primaries and ranked choice voting 

Sightline has researched open primaries and ranked choice voting for years. So when the northernmost reach of Cascadia adopted this election format, we were ready with original analysis, information for press and community groups, and resources for voters. 

Portland, OR: Better representation through multi-member districts and ranked choice voting 

In 2022, Rose City voters elected to adopt a suite of best-in-class changes to the way it runs its elections and city government. These included using proportional representation (multi-member districts) and ranked choice voting. Sightline published a much-cited FAQ on the measures, plus news updates and resources describing the their benefits for the people of Portland. 

Election consolidation: Fewer elections, lower costs, and higher voter turnout 

When it comes to increasing voter turnout, what’s the one reform to rule them all? “Election consolidation,” or rescheduling local elections to occur with national and state elections. Not only does it boost turnout more than any other change scholars have studied, it also lowers election administration costs and is wildly popular among US voters. Cascadians have much to gain from election consolidation. 

Book: Becoming a Democracy 

“If we want to fix the climate crisis, we need a working democracy—so here’s the repair guide.” That’s Bill McKibben, commenting on Sightline’s Becoming a Democracy: How We Can Fix the Electoral College, Gerrymandering, and Our Elections. It’s a layperson’s explainer on the problems with the US electoral system—and the solutions that would transform our democracy for the better 

Sightline democracy research in the news