On June 26, Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia’s 8th Congressional District introduced a bill titled the Fair Representation Act (H.R. 3057).
This bill would introduce a nationwide system of multi-member districts with representatives elected through a system called ranked-choice voting. Ranked-choice voting is a voting system that has voters rank candidates based on the order they want them to be elected instead of voting for only one candidate. “Wasted” votes under this system would be transferred to other candidates based on how voters chose their second and third preferences. Here are three reasons why it needs to pass:
» It would effectively end partisan gerrymandering.
Putting aside the fact that the Fair Representation Act would require independent commissions to draw district boundaries, by giving minorities in multimember districts a voice, gerrymandering for the purpose of increasing a party’s overall share of seats would become virtually impossible.
» Every vote would matter.
Under the Fair Representation Act, Democrats in majority Republican districts would have incentive to turn out, since there would be a chance of electing at least one Democrat from a multimember district. The same applies for Republicans in majority Democratic districts.
» Third parties would become viable.
Under the Fair Representation Act, voters could vote for the party that best represents their views and interests without worrying that they’ll help a candidate or party that they are opposed to. Third-party candidates would be much more likely to win seats under ranked-choice voting because the threshold needed in order to be elected would be reduced with multimember districts.
While there are drawbacks to the Fair Representation Act, such as potentially unstable coalitions and the complexity of counting, the drawbacks of the Fair Representation Act are outweighed by the gains in having fairer representation in Congress.
Congress’ approval rating stands at an abysmal 10 percent; meanwhile, roughly half of all Americans believe it’s time for a serious third party to enter the political arena. The Fair Representation Act would go a long way in ensuring that more than two parties end up being viable in Congress and in making every vote count.
Alec Soltes, Albemarle County