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Initiative aims to increase female representation in statehouses

▶ Watch Video: New initiative aims to get more women into state legislatures

Women make up 51% of the nation’s population, yet make up fewer than 31% of state legislators, according to campaign training and leadership program Vote Run Lead. With a new initiative, the founder and CEO of the program hopes to change that percentage to create a more representative U.S. government and reform democracy.

“When more women get into public office, more bills get passed, more money goes home to their districts. There’s a more bipartisan manner. The budget actually gets passed on the deadline that it’s supposed to be,” founder and CEO of Vote Run Lead Erin Vilardi told CBSN’s Tanya Rivero on Friday. “When more women are in government, government is better.”

The nonpartisan initiative, called Run/51, is working to achieve 51% of total representation in state legislatures by 2024, and has a particular focus on achieving that goal in New York, Georgia and Minnesota. The program has directors in those three states to help design a campaign “playbook” to be used later in future elections in other states.

“Only one state in America — Nevada — has more women than men in their legislature,” Vilardi said. “We’re excited about making it the other 49 as well.”   

The need for such initiative comes due to what she described as a threatened democracy. 

“Our work is open to all women but we’re also really looking for folks that want to reform our democracy. It’s under attack right now,” Vilardi said. “If we want more women to run for office, we’ve got to make sure that our democracy is healthy. It’s long known that women in government also build the health of democracies, not just here in the U.S., but across the world.” 

If women nominate themselves or someone else to run in their state’s House or Senate election through Run/51, they will receive a 10-week campaign plan, as well as the access to coaches who have previously won legislative races, according to the program’s website. 

“If you think you have the energy for it, we have the campaign tools and skills to help you get there,” Vilardi said. 

Vote Lead Run will debut the initiative on Saturday at a virtual event streamed online. 


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