Posted by Will Mantell on April 07, 2022 at 10:09 AM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Will Mantell, [email protected], 914-806-0081

Minnesota #1, Hawaii #50 in FairVote’s “Dubious Democracy” State Rankings

Each state’s Voter Voice Ranking reflects close elections, voter turnout, and accuracy of representation in U.S. House 

More voters than ever experience no-choice elections

April 7, 2022 – FairVote, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for better elections, announced its “Dubious Democracy” state rankings today. All 50 states receive a “Voter Voice Ranking,” an average of five measures reflecting close elections, voter turnout, and accuracy of representation. The five measures are based on results from the most recent U.S. House of Representatives elections, and are: 1) margin of victory, 2) landslide victories, 3) voter turnout, 4) voter consensus, and 5) partisan skew. 

In higher-ranked states, citizens are more likely to have their voices heard and more likely to make a difference in election outcomes. The Top 10 and Bottom 10 states, along with their weighted letter grade (A for top 10, B for 11-20, and so on), are: 

Top 10 (A grade)

Bottom 10 (F grade)

1. Minnesota

50. Hawaii

2. Wisconsin

49. Tennessee

3. Montana

48. Oklahoma

4. Maine

47. Arkansas

5. Colorado

46. West Virginia

    Michigan

45. Louisiana 

7. Iowa

44. New York

    New Hampshire

43. Alabama

9. Oregon

42. Mississippi 

10. Washington

41. Indiana

 

“For three decades now, we’ve shown that elections for the ‘people’s house’ are deeply flawed. In our dubious democracy, more voters than ever are trapped in one-party districts where their voices aren’t heard and their votes don’t make a difference,” said Rob Richie, President and CEO of FairVote. “Whether it’s gerrymandering or simply a state’s strong tilt towards one party, the lack of competition in general elections discourages voters and hurts American democracy. To provide real choices and improve representation for all of us, we need to pass the Fair Representation Act and move to multi-member congressional districts with fair elections based on ranked choice voting.” 

The Dubious Democracy report is a thoughtful and valuable analysis of the disconnect between our democratic ideals and the outcomes of our federal elections,” said Todd Donovan, Professor of Political Science at Western Washington University. “This is valuable data demonstrating problems with our current winner-take-all system for House elections, as well as variation between the states in how well their elections capture voter voice." 

The five measures averaged in each state’s Voter Voice ranking are:

  1. Margin of Victory: Measures the average difference between the winner’s percentage of the vote and the second-place candidate’s percentage of the vote. (Nationwide, the average margin of victory in our most recent U.S. House of Representatives elections was 28%). 
  2. Landslide Victories: Measures the percentage of races won by a margin of victory of 20 percentage points or greater. Uncontested races are considered landslides. (Nationwide, 65% of our most recent U.S. House of Representatives elections were landslides).
  3. Voter Turnout: Measures the percentage of the voting age population who voted in a state’s U.S. House elections. (Nationwide, turnout was 63% in our most recent U.S. House of Representatives elections). 
  4. Voter Consensus: Measures the percentage of the voting age population in a state who voted for the winning candidates in U.S. House elections. (Nationwide, only 36% of the voting age population helped elect their representative in the U.S. House). 
  5. Partisan Skew: Measures the average by which one party wins a greater percentage of seats than votes and the other party wins a smaller percentage of seats than votes. The skew is calculated by adding the percentage skew for each party and then dividing by two. For example, if Democratic candidates won 10% more House seats than their share of votes and Republicans won 6% fewer House seats than their share of votes, the partisan skew would be 8%. (The partisan skew is higher than 10% in 40 of the 50 states). 

Because states are responsible for drawing their own congressional maps and setting voter eligibility requirements, they are able to improve their ranking and the health of their democracy. Voters can demand lawmakers work together to address these deficiencies.

Nationally, the Fair Representation Act (FRA) is the single most important long-term change to stabilize and strengthen our democracy. The FRA would replace single-winner congressional districts with multi-member districts elected through ranked choice voting. This would lower the temperature of our politics and dramatically reduce political polarization, replacing “winner-take-all” with a system where representatives are elected in proportion to their level of support from voters. 

The FRA would eliminate gerrymandering, ensure real competition and real accuracy of representation, and foster greater turnout in U.S. House elections – helping all 50 states evolve from a “dubious” democracy to a thriving one. 

The full “Dubious Democracy” report is available online

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FairVote is a nonpartisan organization seeking better elections for all. We research and advance voting reforms that make democracy more functional and representative for every American.

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