Commentary & Analysis

Staff Spotlight: Campaigning for Voting Reform

“Ask any candidate from any party, anywhere in America and they will tell you the system is messed up. Working with candidates, I got to see it firsthand, and it’s what makes me an advocate for voting method reform.”

Director of Campaigns and Advocacy Chris Raleigh

Chris Raleigh, our new Director of Campaigns & Advocacy, has spent the last several years of his career working to get candidates elected. And he’s seen the toll that the current system takes on the political process and the way campaigns are run.

“A lot of the extreme partisanship we are seeing in politics today is a result of the voting method we use, and I think approval voting can definitely ease some of the tensions,” Chris noted. He’s excited to have the opportunity to make our democracy more effective, fair, and equal through the advancement of better voting methods.

Chris was hired by CES as we seek to expand our advocacy efforts and take on more campaigns to bring better voting methods to cities across the country. Right now, we’re supporting a ballot initiative campaign in St. Louis, MO, and Chris has dived right into crafting our campaign strategy to educate as many St. Louisans as possible about approval voting.

Chris brings with him strong expertise in campaign management. He has a Master’s of Science in Applied American Politics and Policy from Florida State University where he studied voter behavior, political messaging and outreach strategies.

He got his first taste of campaign work in 2012 when he volunteered on a campaign in his hometown of St. Petersburg, FL. He always wanted to make a real impact in people’s lives, and his time volunteering on the campaign showed him that working in politics was a way to do that on a large scale. He took these experiences with him into a career in PR where he crafted messaging and outreach strategy for some of the nation’s largest companies and causes.

After a few years working in PR, Chris made his way into professional campaign work, where he worked his way from field organizer, to deputy campaign manager, to finally working as head campaign manager on two separate congressional campaigns.

In his most recent campaign manager role, Chris had to help his candidate overcome the odds of garnering votes in a district that that was not totally amenable to their campaign.

“We had to work very hard to build up our name recognition and build a movement of advocates. … However, through hard work, judicious use of resources, and a good plan, we were able to build a truly incredible, insurgent force. I hope to bring that same kind of thinking here to CES as it continues to grow and win elections.”

His primary experience has been on candidate campaigns, but Chris is enthusiastic about bringing the expertise he has gained both on political campaigns and in PR to the fight for better voting methods.

“Ballot initiatives are about getting the word out about your idea and winning over as many people as possible with your arguments,” Chris said. “Like a partisan election, some people will just not want to buy what you’re selling, but most people will be supportive if you clearly articulate what it means for them and their families.”

One characteristic our team admires about Chris is his commitment to constantly learning and building a supportive team environment. He noted that his favorite part of campaign work is leading, teaching, and learning from a team.

“Seeing so many people dedicated to your project is really exciting and rewarding at the same time.”

Chris is a political junkie, but that’s not all he cares about. He lives in DC and enjoys refereeing softball and soccer games on the National Mall. He also runs an Instagram blog called Rail Drinks, where he and his girlfriend review different bars around the Beltway. As a Floridian and alumnus of the University of Florida, Chris is also a proud Gator and can usually be found watching them play football during the fall.

We’re very excited to have Chris on board, and we’re so thankful to all of the donors who made this hire possible! With the expertise of a dedicated Director of Campaigns & Advocacy, we will be much more strategic and effective in our campaigns to empower voters across the country with approval voting. And it’s all thanks to you!

Want to contribute to the effort to bring a better ballot to more voters? Check out our donate page, and contact our director of philanthropy Kirsten Elliott with any questions.