It’s no secret that the two party duopoly in this country has done everything in their power to suppress political freedom in this country. From filing lawsuits to deny minor parties ballot access, to refusing to let non Republican and Democrats debate, many people feel as though they have no choice but to vote for the “lesser of two evils” or else risk “wasting” their vote. Well, legislation introduced late last month is designed to change all of that.
In late June, Democratic Virginia Congressman Don Beyer, along with his Democratic colleagues Ro Khanna (CA), and Jamie Raskin (MD) introduced legislation that would radically alter the way we elect our representatives.
As it currently stands, individual state legislatures are in charge of drawing up congressional districts. What generally tends to happen, in this scenario, is that the governing party draws up districts in a manner that is most beneficial to said party. This gerrymandering means that a Republican controlled legislature in Wisconsin, or a Democrat controlled legislature in Connecticut can use their power to ensure that their opposition will have a tough time winning an election. This gerrymandering means that 97% of congressmen get re-elected.
Under the “Fair Representation Act,” that would change. According to Rob Richie, Executive Director of the advocacy group “FairVote,” this legislation creates an
“ impartial, national standard that gets at the core of FairVote’s mission: Giving voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans.”
The bill has three major components.
First; it would ensure that an independent board, not state legislatures are drawing congressional districts. By having an independent board handle redistricting, it eliminates one political party from drawing up districts that specifically help that party.
Second; the bill would establish “multi-member” districts. This means that if you’re living in Michigan’s third district, instead of having one person represent that entire district, you may have 3 people representing that district. That way there is a chance for every group to receive equal representation.
Finally, and most importantly, this bill would change our voting system from a “winner take all” system, to a “ranked choice voting” system. As it currently stands, if a candidate wins 40% of the vote, and their opponent receives 39% of the vote, the person who received 40% of the vote wins the election, even though 60% of voters voted against them.
In a “ranked choice voting” system, voters would be allowed to rank their candidates based on preference. So if you’re a Libertarian, who wants to vote for the Libertarian candidate but also doesn’t want to help elect a progressive socialist, you won’t have to compromise on your values and vote Republican. Instead, what you would do, is vote for the libertarian candidate, ranking them as your first choice, then you could vote for the Republican as your second choice. Because in a “ranked choice voting” system, candidates need a majority of votes to win the election.
So let’s say you vote for a Libertarian as your first choice and a Republican as your second choice. If the Libertarian only receives 10% of the vote, and the Republican receives 45% of the vote, while the Democrat receives 40% of the vote, there would be no official winner. In that scenario, the election committee would then look at voter’s second preference, so if that 10% who voted Libertarian all had the Republican candidate as their second choice, the Republican would win with 55% of the vote.
While ranked choice voting seems like it wouldn’t make much of a difference, especially if the two major parties continue to win elections, it would erase the “wasted vote” stigma, and over time third party candidates would have a legitimate shot at winning more elections.