Posted on June 26, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2017
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08) today announced his introduction of The Fair Representation Act, groundbreaking legislation that would reform Congressional elections, defeat gerrymandering, combat political polarization, and most importantly, give voters real voice and choice when electing their representatives.
Under the Fair Representation Act, all U.S. House members will be elected by ranked-choice voting in new, larger multi-winner districts. This system would replace today’s map of safe red and blue seats that lock voters into uncompetitive districts, and elect members of Congress with little incentive to work together and solve problems.
"Polarization and partisanship, both among voters and in the Congress, have reached dangerous and scary heights," said Rep. Beyer. "The Fair Representation Act is the bold reform America needs to be sure every vote matters, to defeat the gerrymander, and ensure the House of Representatives remains the people's House."
“The Fair Representation Act is the most comprehensive approach to improving congressional elections in American history,” said Rob Richie, the executive director of FairVote. “It creates an impartial, national standard that gets at the core of FairVote’s mission: Giving voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans.”
This legislation directly addresses the most crucial problem in our democracy: A system fundamentally broken by a dangerous new era of fierce partisan divisions. Upwards of 85 percent of Americans live in districts increasingly skewed toward one party. Too many votes simply don’t matter. The current system rewards partisans, destroys electoral accountability, and discourages innovation or crossing party lines.
The Fair Representation Act gives voters of all political stripes the power to elect House members who reflect their views and will work effectively with others. It increases voter choice and provides a fair reflection of voter preferences -- the majority elects the most seats but everyone earns their fair share, including urban Republicans, rural Democrats and innovative thinkers of all kinds. Independents and third-party candidates could run without being spoilers.
Here’s how it works: Smaller states with five or fewer members will elect all representatives from one statewide, at-large district. States with more than six will draw multi-winner districts of three to five representatives each. Congress will remain the same size, but districts will be larger.
They will be elected through ranked-choice voting, an increasingly common electoral method used in many American cities, whereby voters rank candidates in order of choice, ensuring that as many voters as possible help elect a candidate they support. Under ranked-choice voting, if no candidate reaches the threshold needed to win, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. When a voter’s top choice loses, their vote instantly goes to their second choice. The process repeats until all seats are elected.
Using this approach, four in five voters would elect someone they support. The number of voters in position to swing a seat would immediately triple -- from less than 15 percent in 2016, to just under half.
The districts themselves will be drawn by state-created, independent commissions made up of ordinary citizens. These larger districts would be nearly impossible to gerrymander for political advantage – and would force politicians to seek out voters with different perspectives and remain accountable to them.
“Under the Fair Representation Act, every voter will live in a district that matters, and be able to cast a vote that makes a difference. We’ll open elections to more voices, wider debate and greater diversity. And fairer elections, in turn, will discourage deep polarization,” said Richie.
Cynthia Terrell, founder of Representation2020, added that “No single reform would create more opportunities for women and people of color from across the spectrum to compete in fair elections. It is central to our vision of how we achieve parity for women in congressional elections.”
The Act will transform our broken politics and, once again, create a government designed of, by, and for the people. House leadership will reliably shift with whichever party’s candidates won more votes in the election and members will be rewarded for working cooperatively with others.
“The Fair Representation Act is effective, constitutional and grounded in American traditions of remodeling our system to ensure every vote counts and all our voices are heard,” said Richie. “It is the transformative change we need to make democracy work for all Americans.” To learn more about the Fair Representation Act, read FairVote’s Monopoly Politics report, and explore resources associated with the proposed legislation.
FairVote is a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms that give voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans. Since its founding in 1992, FairVote has advocated for this comprehensive reform vision, and applauds the introduction of the Fair Representation Act as a monumental step forward for election reform.