Fair Voting/Proportional Representation
Fair voting (sometimes called "proportional representation" and "proportional voting") describes a range of voting methods in which like-minded voters elect candidates in proportion to their share of the vote. That is, in a five-seat district, like-minded voters with 20% of votes will win one out of five seats and like-minded voters with 51% of the vote will win three of five seats. When described as proportional representation, fair voting is most well-known for its use in many European countries with party-based systems and a parliamentary form of government. But forms of fair voting can be used in nonpartisan elections and "parliamentary system" describes the structure of government rather than how that government is elected. Fair voting is used in nearly all major, well-established democracies.
As applied to the United States, fair voting typically describes candidate-based systems currently used in the U.S.: choice voting, cumulative voting and the one vote form of limited voting. Of these methods, choice voting (known internationally as the single transferable vote) is the method most likely to provide fair representation to voters. In the United States, choice voting is used in local elections in Cambridge (MA) and some local offices in Minneapolis (MN). Cumulative voting and limited voting are used for some local elections in Peoria (IL), Amarillo (TX), Hartford (CT) and many other smaller localities
Fair Voting Proposals for the United States
Fair Voting for Congress
FairVote has developed a fair voting plan for the entire United States Congress, viewable in an interactive map and described state-by-state in the Fair Voting 2012 report. The plan combines existing congressional districts into larger "super districts" that each elect multiple representatives using candidate-based forms of proportional representation. For detailed analysis of how super district plans would improve our congressional elections, see FairVote's "No More Gerrymanders" series.
Fair Voting for State Legislatures
Fair voting plans can also be implemented for state legislative elections. See the following plans that FairVote has created for state legislatures in California and Michigan:
Fair voting has a long history in U.S. elections and is currently used in local jurisdictions throughout the nation. Because fair voting helps to ensure fair representation of racial minorities, it has been used to resolve many cases brought under the Voting Rights Act. Illinois elected its house of representatives by fair voting from 1870 to 1980. Choice voting in particular has been used in some two dozen cities, including Cincinatti, Cleveland, and New York City.
Proportional Representation Around the World
Proportional representation is the most popular method for electing national legislatures in democracies around the world. For information on international use of proportional representation, see:
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Choice voting is a proportional voting system where voters maximize the effectiveness of their vote by ranking candidates in multi-seat constituencies, and is FairVote's preferred system for use in the United States.
For those who like local, geographic-based representation, Districts Plus (known internationally as Mixed Member Proportional Representation) is a particularly attractive fair voting system. It makes every vote in every district meaningful in every election and ensures that the party that receives the most votes wins the most seats.