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Catherine Vaughan, Flippable

September 4, 2018

Catherine Vaughan, CEO and co-founder of Flippable, is a New Face of Democracy because she used her passion for public service and management skills to create a game changing force to turn state legislatures from red to blue.

Catherine learned a lot at Harvard, Stanford Business School, as a consultant at McKinsey and working in the nonprofit sector. But some of the most valuable lessons she learned came from her time living in Ohio and working as a political newcomer on the Hillary Clinton campaign during the summer of 2016. There she saw firsthand the power that state legislatures have over our federal elections. And when Donald Trump won in November of that year, she knew what needed to be done. Our state legislatures had been hijacked by the Republicans starting in 2010, and the playing field was no longer level. She and her teammates realized that to rebuild our democracy, we needed to start from the ground up, at the state level. And so in November 2016, Flippable was born to help flip state legislatures from red to blue.

Why are state legislatures important?  One big reason is that states legislatures draw the district maps for Congressional elections. When these maps are manipulated to benefit a political party, it is called gerrymandering. The GOP figured out the importance of state legislatures years ago when Karl Rove famously wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “He who controls redistricting controls Congress.” In fact, since 2008, the GOP has won 1,000 seats at the state level, now controlling 2/3 of the state legislatures in the country. To put it another way, the Democrats controlled the legislatures in 27 states in 2009; they now control 13.  Currently, 18 Republican seats in the House of Representatives are directly attributable to partisan gerrymandering. Redistricting takes places every 10 years after the census. With the next census in 2020, there is no time to waste in getting Democrats elected at the state level so we can get Democrats elected at the federal level.

But there’s more! State legislatures not only draw the congressional maps, but they also write the voting laws.  When this legislative power is abused, a state legislature can enact laws that suppress the vote of people likely to vote for certain candidates.  Today, that means that we are seeing voter suppression laws that target Democratic voters. Take Texas, for instance. Did you know that over 600,000 registered voters in Texas do not have acceptable ID to vote in Texas? And that Texas does not accept University of TX student ID for voting but will accept concealed-weapons permits?  That kind of voter ID law is the product of a Republican state legislature. Then there’s Alabama, where starting in 2014 a photo id was required to vote. The next year, the state closed 31 drivers license offices, one of the main sources for said photo id’s. The only problem is that those 31 counties included every county in the state where African Americans make up 75% or more of the vote. The bottom line is that through redistricting/gerrymandering and voter suppression, states that you might consider farflung actually have a huge impact on who is elected president.  

But Flippable has a plan.  Using electoral data, Catherine and her colleagues have identified the 130 state races in the 2018 midterms that will have the biggest impact on flipping whole chambers (e.g., the state’s assembly or senate) in states with the worst gerrymandering and voter suppression laws.  In 2018, these states are Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin, Texas, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona and North Carolina. And even better, they have created the Flippable Fund where with one click, your money will go to the candidates who will make the biggest difference in American politics.

Catherine took her previous experience in business, nonprofit and politics and with her teammates built a 100,000+ member grassroots community.  Flippable has already raised over $1.5 million for Democratic candidates and causes and 17 of their candidates have been elected even before the 2018 midterms.  That’s why Catherine is a New Face of Democracy.

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