Interstate Compacts for Fair Representation

Interstate Compacts For Fair Representation

An interstate compact for fair representation is an agreement between two (or more) states that each will adopt fair representation voting in multi-winner districts if the other does as well. It represents an innovative way for states to move forward toward a fairer and more representative Congress.

Two states - one controlled by one party and one controlled by another - can agree to become fair together. For example, a Democratic-controlled state whose districts unfairly advantage Democrats could join with a Republican-controlled state whose districts unfairly advantage Republicans. That way, the majority party in each state does not feel as though they are "unilaterally disarming." Both act together, or not at all.

Although a national standard is the best approach to achieving fair representation for all, states can act right now to promote fair representation through interstate compacts. An interstate compact is a binding contract between two states. If either state repeals or fails to implement fair representation voting in multi-winner districts, the other ceases to be bound by the compact.

The Potomac Compact

On February 5, 2016, Maryland state senator Jamie Raskin introduced an example of an interstate compact for fair representation, which he called the Potomac Compact for Fair Representation.

Under the Potomac Compact, Maryland and Virginia (if it also passed the compact) would each send citizens to a joint independent redistricting commission. That commission could then implement a multi-winner district plan: Maryland would divide into two districts, each electing four; Virginia would divide into three districts, two of which elect three and one of which elects five. Within those districts, voters would use ranked choice voting or another fair representation voting method.

Our analysis suggests that such a plan would allow voters in every part of both states to elect candidates from the major party they prefer. With ranked choice voting, every voter would be in a meaningfully contested election, and the outcomes would be far more fair than they are in either state now. It could do all that for both states without changing the overall partisan impact for either political party, making it a safe political choice for both states.

On March 3, 2016, FairVote testified in Maryland in favor of the Potomac Compact for Fair Representation.

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