As polarization advances in the United States, citizens are suffering. Despite the claim of free and fair elections, voter opinions are often unrepresented as a result of single-winner congressional districts. Accurately named Monopoly Politics, FairVote’s report highlights the projected disproportionate allocation of congressional seats that fails to reflect voter preferences. Monopoly Politics’ interactive map allows users to view congressional district races based on various generic ballot margins. The map not only projects which party will be sending a representative to Congress, it also reflects a breakdown of constituents’ party preferences, which compared to the projected winners does not represent all of the district’s views. This skewed representation has unfortunately become the norm in the United States due to states’ dominating usage of single-winner districts and the prevalence of the winner-takes-all principle.
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The stain of gerrymandering, or the manipulation of district lines during redistricting to give an advantage to a specific party or politician(s), on America’s democracy continues to grow thanks to the design of congressional districts. Single-winner districts enable strategies like ‘packing’ supporters of the other party into just a few districts so they waste excess votes, or ‘cracking’ them between so many districts that they can’t have a real impact on any. The tenacity of partisanship within the United States makes it simple to predict voting patterns, which only reinforces the tactic of gerrymandering to rearrange voters and thus sway the results of congressional elections. Monopoly Politics demonstrates how partisanship and polarization contribute to corrupt redistricting, which begs the question: how can we ensure just and fair representation for American citizens?
The Monopoly Politics report is both a success and a warning. While past iterations have been able to accurately predict congressional election results months before voting occurs, this ability to do so only highlights the downfall of America’s current voting infrastructure. The realities projected by Monopoly Politics emphasize the need for reforms such as the Fair Representation Act (FRA). In short, the FRA would reform congressional elections by creating multi-winner districts, implementing independent redistricting commissions, and utilizing ranked choice voting. Proportional representation as a result of the FRA would ensure that constituents would have representatives that accurately reflect their district’s breakdown of ideological preferences. The FRA would also tackle corrupt processes such as gerrymandering, which has impacted American politics for far too long. The data that Monopoly Politics showcases only underscores the need for electoral reforms in the United States.