Voices & Choices

Picking a name from a bowl is a lousy way for our democracy to work

Picking a name from a bowl is a lousy way for our democracy to work

In a Vox piece “Virginia clarifies the case against winner-take-all democracy,” Lee Drutman writes about glaring flaws within electoral outcomes, specifically focusing on the mess in Virginia, which recently determined control of its House of Delegates by picking a name out of a bowl in a deadlocked election.

Drutman says a primary reason the election between GOP Delegate David Yancey and his Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds is because of Republicans’ control over the redistricting process to draw favorable districts to their advantage -- the age-old art of gerrymandering. “If votes translated into legislative seats proportionately in the 2017 election, Democrats would have won a solid majority in the House of Delegates,” he notes. It continues to be a problem not only in Virginia, but also in many states across the country.

To be clear, both parties have used gerrymandering to their advantage for partisan gain. One way to alleviate the problem would be the adoption of the Fair Representation Act (FRA), which provides guidelines for independent redistricting commissions, as well as multi-member districts, which would immediately bring more balanced representation to congressional districts, and ranked choice voting, which would add more competition to races, more voices within parties, and more space new voices.

Picking names from a bowl to determine who represents us in government is a lousy way for our democracy to work. As Drutman points out, we can do better.

The article first appeared at Vox on January 4, 2018

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