Now is the perfect time to make your voice heard in support of fair representation voting. You can use the brief talking points below as a starting point for writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. We also have some sample LTEs from the past for your reference.
In order to hold politicians accountable, every voter should be able to participate in a competitive election. Right now, nearly 9 in 10 U.S. House seats is safe for the incumbent party--no wonder voters don’t turnout in November! Every vote and every voice should count in every election.
Independent Commissions are a good first step, but we need to do more. Taking the power to draw districts out of the hands of politicians is an important first step, but independent commissions don’t get at the heart of the problem: our winner-take-all system with single-winner districts. Unless we adopt multi-winner districts using fair representation voting, we’ll still have districts that are unrepresentative or safe for one party.
Representative democracy is not winner-take-all. Any system of winner-take-all elections will result in most districts being safe for one party and allow one party to win more seats even with fewer votes. To make the “peoples’ house” truly responsive to voters, Congress should pass a statute to require fair representation plans in all states (or you can adapt to your state legislature, county council, or city council).
Re “Redistricting maps will be sketchy as long as politicians do the drawing” (Roger Chesley column, March 26): Chesley shows how manipulative politicians and political parties can be in their quest for legislative power. The battle over gerrymandered districts makes clear the need for change in Virginia.
It’s not enough to support independent commissions. As Chesley notes, commissions “wouldn’t entirely remove politics from the equation.” They are a remedy for a symptom and won’t fix Virginia’s single-winner congressional districts with winner-take-all voting.
Commissions still produce districts that are noncompetitive or do not fairly represent the voters on multiple levels. (Look at California, where Democrats maintain lopsided majorities after moving to independent commissions.) Commissions cannot guarantee competitive elections, partisan fairness or accountability.
Virginians can have representative democracy through multi-winner districts and ranked-choice voting. By allowing more than one voice to represent citizens in a district, single-party monopolies would be broken up. With ranked-choice voting, every voter participates in a competitive, meaningful election, and partisan outcomes would be based on the will of the voters, not manipulated district lines.
While we take the power to draw districts out of the hands of politicians, we shouldn’t forget to empower voters with fair representation voting.
The Upshot article highlights how the geographical concentration of the Democratic base in urban areas creates a significant Republican bias in House elections. It suggests that this bias will exist as long as current demographic trends persist. However, there is a structural solution to the partisan bias prevalent in House elections: Congress needs to eliminate single-member districts.
Our winner-take-all system often leaves large contingencies in single-member districts (on both sides of the political spectrum) without an elected official representing their beliefs. This is not representative democracy.
The solution is a fair representation voting system — promoted by the nonpartisan electoral reform group FairVote — that replaces our current system with multi-member districts. With multiple seats, voters could elect candidates in proportion to their preferred party’s strength in the electorate.
The candidate-based campaigning synonymous with the American political tradition would still thrive; however, “the People’s House” would more accurately represent the will of voters.