The Fair Representation Act: How to Make Congress All-Partisan

Posted by Myeisha Boyd on July 20, 2017

Our Democracy is fundamentally broken by a dangerous new era of fierce partisan divisions. The current system leaves many voters voiceless in the political process and depresses voter participation. We are left with a partisan division that may be hard to fix - but, it’s not impossible.

On June 26, 2017, U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced the Fair Representation Act, joined by U.S. Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD). The FRA gives voters of all backgrounds and all political stripes the power to elect House Members who reflect their views. The FRA is a new method that offers a way to overcome redistricting wars with multi-member districts and the use of ranked choice voting (RCV).

Last month, the Supreme Court announced they would hear Wisconsin’s gerrymandering case that could lead to a ruling against partisan gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the practice of incumbents drawing legislative boundaries aimed to help strengthen one political party over the other, essentially tampering with the district lines. Although hearing this case is a great first step to fixing the redistricting problem that allows one party to dominate, it does not fix the problem of having noncompetitive districts in general.

Regardless of how lines are drawn for our current system, the vast majority of Americans will live in landslide districts, where Democrats or Republicans win overwhelmly. But the problem goes beyond gerrymandering, redistricting, and money in politics. 

The winner-take-all system, where only one person is elected to represent each district, no longer works. Under the FRA, districts will be larger and each will elect more than one winner so more voices in the district can be heard, hence more people will be represented.

The New York Times featured a piece called “How to Make Congress Bipartisan” by Reihan Salam, National Review Executive Editor and Rob Richie, FairVote Executive Director. In the oped, Salam and Richie explain the importance of reforming our electoral system, “the good news is that there is a way out: replacing out winner-take-all elections with a form of proportional representation where every voter matters in every election.”

The New York Times oped created buzz on twitter. Hendrik Hertzberg asked his followers to read Salam and Richie’s oped where he agreed with the points brought up in the article “a billion percent.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America, retweeted the article for her followers: 

The winner-take-all system that is currently in place allows voters with 51% of the vote to have 100% representation and voters with 49% of the vote to have 0% representation. With the FRA, everyone will have a stronger voice and as many people as possible will have real representation. Find out more by watching our video.

Photo credit: Associated Press



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