History of Congressional Elections

Posted on February 06, 2019

In the coming months, U.S. Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia plans to reintroduce the Fair Representation Act, reviving the bold new vision for congressional elections originally put forth in his 2017 legislation by the same name.

Multi-member congressional districts with ranked choice voting remain new ideas to many, but the proposals are increasingly gaining traction among elected officials and news media, including the editorial board of The New York Times. Moreover, the idea is not a new one. Each element drew upon a rich history of local, state, and federal approaches to elections. Finally, its approach was consistent with centuries of congressional action to address problems in federal elections

In this white paper, we show how that history evolved since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788, along with how progress has stalled since 1967. With the dysfunction of the current system more apparent each election cycle, the time has come to revisit how we elect the "People's House."

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House Size Report

Posted on March 15, 2018

In this report, FairVote looks at issues with the current fixed size of the US House of Representatives, and examines several proposals for making the size of the House of Representatives more dynamic. We find little evidence that the current fixed size of the House is justified beyond the practical political realities that lead to its imposition and suggest two alternative formulas for House of Representatives reapportionment. A version of the report is available below, the report can also be viewed or downloaded here


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Best Practices for Collaborative Policymaking

Posted on December 03, 2015

Rising partisanship and polarization have made it increasingly difficult for legislators to engage in the bipartisan cooperation necessary for effective policymaking. While much of this dysfunction stems from entrenched national problems – a polarizing electorate, flawed elections, and an increasingly corrosive media environment – other causes originate from within our legislatures themselves.

In Best Practices for Collaborative Policymaking: Learning from Power-Sharing Arrangements in State Legislatures, FairVote and the Bipartisan Policy Center examine power-sharing agreements in state legislatures in order to draw lessons about bipartisan cooperation. The report identifies two factors that significantly impact the prospects for collaboration: the level of majority party control over the agenda, and the strength of personal relationships across party lines. It recommends specific reforms that can help legislators to bridge the growing ideological divide and work together for the good of their constituents.

Accompanying the report is an overview of the status of legislative rules impacting collaboration in the 50 states.

To view the 50-state database of legislative rules that can help foster collaboration, click here: Legislative Rules Database.

Download the Report




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Monopoly Politics 2014

Posted on November 06, 2013

Click on the analyses in the outline below to open sections of the Monopoly Politics 2014 report in PDF.

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Monopoly Politics 2014 and the Fair Voting Solution

Posted on November 06, 2013

FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2014 and the Fair Voting Solution report, presented below in the form of an interactive map and links to analysis and state profiles, is an important resource for understanding U.S. House elections as they are and as they could be with a simple statutory change that would open every corner of the country to meaningful two-party competition and fair representation. We project November 2014 winners in more than 370 of 435 House races using a methodology that will allow us to predict 2016 winners in an even greater number of districts on November 6th -- only two days after the 2014 election. 

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Fixing Top Two in California

Posted on June 18, 2013

In 2010, California voters approved a ballot measure establishing a Top Two primary system. Top Two replaced a system in which partisan primaries were followed by a general election among nominees of each party and independents. Under Top Two, all candidates compete against each other in the first preliminary election irrespective of party preferences. Voters have one vote, and the two candidates receiving the most votes advance to the general election, again irrespective of party preferences. 

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Top Two in Washington State

Posted on October 25, 2012

Update: This report has now been updated to include additional analysis from the results of the 2012 general election, more details on FairVote's proposed solution: Top Four with ranked choice voting, and analysis based on comparison to California's use of Top Two in 2012.The Top Two primary system has drawn increasing attention as a way to reform our elections. Rather than have parties nominate candidates who then face off in a general election, it establishes two rounds of voting: the first a "preliminary" to reduce the field to two candidates and the second a final runoff between the top two finishers. Candidates pick their own party label, and that label has no impact on which candidates advance.Louisiana for years was the only state using a form of the system for both state and federal elections. Washington State started using the system in 2008. California implemented it in 2012, and Arizona voters may adopt it in a November 2012 ballot measure. This report looks at the impact of the Top Two primary in Washington State in the two and a half election cycles in which it has been used. The report focuses on state legislative elections, but also summarizes results to date in congressional and statewide elections.   

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Monopoly Politics 2012

Posted on July 20, 2012

What's the partisan landscape in Congressional races in your state? 


Monopoly Politics 2012 includes our analysis of the impact of redistricting, the partisan fundamentals for each state and each district, and our projections for the 2012 Congressional elections. 

Update: November 7, 2012: All 333 of those projections proved to be correct.



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No More Gerrymanders: Missouri

Posted on March 21, 2012

 Lawmakers in Missouri have recently passed a congressional redistricting plan that distorts the state’s political representation in favor of Republicans and institutionalizes a decade of uncompetitive, meaningless elections. While many pundits blame the state legislature for drawing a partisan gerrymander, the root of the worst problems associated with redistricting lies with winner-take-all elections. To address the structural impediments of winner-take-all, FairVote has created an alternative — what we call fair voting — for Missouri’s congressional elections.


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