“Could This Put an End to Gerrymandering?”

Anita Earls in The Nation:

For 30 years I have fought for election districts that are fair to people of color and make it possible for everyone to participate equally. I’ve filed lawsuits challenging districts drawn by Democrats and districts drawn by Republicans. At various times in our history, Democrats and Republicans alike have built barriers for racial minorities. But a new bill before Congress, the Fair Representation Act—a comprehensive new approach that rethinks our approach to districting and voting itself—offers a real way to transcend the redistricting wars….

There is a way forward. If we want to stop gerrymandering, and move beyond constant litigation over how lines are drawn, we must rethink the way we do districting itself. That’s why the Fair Representation Act, recently introduced before Congress by Representative Don Beyer of Virginia and Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, creates such an exciting path forward. It would stipulate that all 435 US House members be elected by ranked-choice voting. States with fewer than six seats will elect all members at-large. Larger states will have independent commissions draw multi-winner districts of three, four, or five representatives.

Yes, at-large elections have historically been used to dilute the votes of racial-minority communities. But that’s been made possible by winner-take-all voting rules that allow a handful of voters to control all the seats. With ranked-choice voting, winning requires a lower share of the vote. FairVote has simulated the impact with two national plans: Both times, the number of racial minority voters in a position to elect a candidate of their choosing has soared—from 38 percent in our current system, to nearly 60 percent. The number of potential minority seats jumps significantly as well, from 71 now to 101.


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