Nowhere in the United States are the pernicious effects of gerrymandering and winner-take-all, single-member districts more clearly visible than in the South. In the line of states running from Louisiana to Virginia, congressional races are nearly universally uncompetitive, Democrats are systematically disadvantaged, and African Americans are underrepresented in spite of the Voting Rights Act.
FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2014 and the Fair Voting Solution report, presented below in the form of an interactive map and links to analysis and state profiles, is an important resource for understanding U.S. House elections as they are and as they could be with a simple statutory change that would open every corner of the country to meaningful two-party competition and fair representation. We project November 2014 winners in more than 370 of 435 House races using a methodology that will allow us to predict 2016 winners in an even greater number of districts on November 6th -- only two days after the 2014 election.
Establishing an explicit constitutional right to vote would strengthen the ability of all citizens to exercise their suffrage rights and limit the ability of federal, state, or local governments to impinge upon the right to vote. FairVote supports an amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishing such an explicit right to vote, because we believe that the right to vote is a cornerstone of representative democracy that depends upon broadly defined voter eligibility, universal voter access to the polls, and election integrity. Recent Supreme Court decisions only underscore the value of this approach, as a properly worded amendment would provide a check on abuses of federal power of the time, place and manner of congressional elections, a check on abuses of state power over voter eligibility in elections, and a means to establish policies designed to prevent practices at any level of government that unnecessarily undercut participation or have a discriminatory impact.
In 2010, California voters approved a ballot measure establishing a Top Two primary system. Top Two replaced a system in which partisan primaries were followed by a general election among nominees of each party and independents. Under Top Two, all candidates compete against each other in the first preliminary election irrespective of party preferences. Voters have one vote, and the two candidates receiving the most votes advance to the general election, again irrespective of party preferences.
Our current method of electing the president is, to say it bluntly, unfair. Thanks to laws that allocate Electoral College votes on a winner-take-all basis, the great majority of Americans are ignored during the election for our country’s highest office. In 2012, all 253 of the campaign events with major party presidential and vice presidential candidates that took place after the Democratic National Convention were in just 12 states. From April 11 through Election Day on November 6, 99.6% of all advertising spending by the major party campaigns and their allies was in just 10 states.
Update: This report has now been updated to include additional analysis from the results of the 2012 general election, more details on FairVote's proposed solution: Top Four with ranked choice voting, and analysis based on comparison to California's use of Top Two in 2012.The Top Two primary system has drawn increasing attention as a way to reform our elections. Rather than have parties nominate candidates who then face off in a general election, it establishes two rounds of voting: the first a "preliminary" to reduce the field to two candidates and the second a final runoff between the top two finishers. Candidates pick their own party label, and that label has no impact on which candidates advance.Louisiana for years was the only state using a form of the system for both state and federal elections. Washington State started using the system in 2008. California implemented it in 2012, and Arizona voters may adopt it in a November 2012 ballot measure. This report looks at the impact of the Top Two primary in Washington State in the two and a half election cycles in which it has been used. The report focuses on state legislative elections, but also summarizes results to date in congressional and statewide elections.
This study was prompted by unusual results of a standard analysis of the ratio of party votes received compared to legislative seats won. Typically, in winner take all voting systems such as Vermont’s, there is a deviation from a one to one ratio, which overrepresents the largest party, and may be exaggerated further as the result of gerrymandering. Vermont’s Senatorial Districts are less prone to gerrymandering, being based largely on preexisting county boundaries. A superficial look at the Vermont 2000 election for governor raises a question.
There are inherent flaws in the plurality voting systems employed in most American elections with a single winner. Namely, plurality voting “can elect a candidate who receives the most first place votes but is strongly disfavored by a majority of the electorate” Dudum v. Arntz, 640 F.3d 1098, 1100 (9th Cir. 2011), a result that does not comport with democratic ideals. It seems patently wrong that a candidate whom the majority voted against should nonetheless represent that majority – even to the point that a majority of voters would see this candidate as their last choice.