Voices & Choices

Elections Reimagined: The Fair Representation Act

Elections Reimagined: The Fair Representation Act

Every year US politics become more vicious and grim. We have reached a crisis point, and it is worth examining what kinds of behaviors and rhetoric our existing institutions encourage. Under our current electoral system the most oppressive, anti-democratic forces can acquire positions of extreme power in our country. Fortunately, there is a solution.

FairVote’s very own Senior Fellow Dave Daley recently served as a moderator on a Netroots panel titled Elections Reimagined: The Fair Representation Act. The Fair Representation Act would vastly improve our elections by solving our problems with partisan gerrymandering and uncompetitive elections by doing away with single member, winner-take-all districts, in favor of proportional, multi-member districts.

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As panelist Congressman Raskin noted, “...if you have a multi member district...everybody, or certainly almost everybody, is going to have at least one person, if not two, or three, or four representing their views.” Multi-winner districts with a fair election system, like ranked choice voting, effectively eliminate gerrymandering by allowing nearly every voter to elect candidates they support. That means regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, chances are your interests will be represented. 

Heather Villanueva of More Equitable Democracy, who has over 15 years of experience in multi-ethnic coalition building and community organizing, added that “Proportional representation is the next step in our movement to address racial inequity on a systemic level.” Further, when discussing economic and racial inequalities in Dayton, OH, Heather Villanueva argued, "So we better ask ourselves, if Black folks and other people of color in Dayton had the opportunity to participate in their own governance rather than be governed upon, would these things still happen?" Under the current system people of color don’t have access to representation because they don’t live in minority majority districts. A FairVote study of Bay Area elections through 2016 shows a significant increase in city offices won by women and people of color since ranked choice voting (a component of the FRA) was adopted. 

When discussing ranked choice voting, panelist and data scientist Anthony Pizzimenti of MGGG Redistricting Lab explained that the voting method is “a good fit for the way that communities of color actually organize on the ground...we don’t have to constrain our focus to districts that are focused on Black voters or Latino voters one at a time. Instead, we can reward groups with more representation, especially when they have broader coalitions of support.” 

The FRA would require that any state drawing district lines must do so by establishing a citizens’ independent redistricting commission. As Congressman Raskin pointed out, “When you've got single-member districts, all districting is gerrymandering, because it's like the cake is baked when the district is drawn.” Villanueva explained that “The Fair Representation Act takes away the ability to game the system of districts by fundamentally changing how people are elected, and then potentially changing the way districts are drawn and their size.” 

Panelist and Communications Director for Justice Democrats Waleed Shahid stated “...on both sides there are tons of people around this country who feel like both parties don’t really work for them, don’t really fight for them, and I think this system would enable voters feeling like they got something for their vote.” 

Learn more about the Fair Representation Act.

 

Image from Max Pixel

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