Sunday, January 27, 2013

The House Is Not Representative

I've been thinking of a way that a large state would have its people better represented by its Congressional Representatives and guard against the abuses of biased redistricting.  I'm thinking that the single-member district idea isn't the best we can do.

So here it is:

First, the simple version:  Proportional Representation.  Each qualified party (last election there were 7 in California) has a primary in which the party's candidates are ranked.

All the Representatives for the state are being determined at the same time.   If the Green Party gets 11% of the Proportional votes, approximately 11% of the Representatives will be chosen from their top ranked candidates (probably the top 4 candidates).  If the Libertarian Party gets 17% they might get their top 7 candidates in.  (I believe this is called party list proportional representation.

Second, the feature of Party Seats.   Let's say that 10 of the 53 Representative seats are Party Seats.  The top 10 political parties as determined by state membership each get one of these seats.  Which would mean 7 seats currently filled this way in California.

We would see a tremendous boon to smaller parties trying to compete with the Democrat-Republican duopoly.   In a way, you get to vote with your membership (which is sort of the case already, since a party can't currently qualify without sufficient membership), and you are 99% guaranteed to be well represented by at least one person in Congress.  Whether you are a Libertarian in CA or a Democrat in Texas, this would be a great way to get engaged and build new coalitions that could eventually achieve some Proportional Representation as well.

Near as I can tell, this would all be Constitutional (or could become so with an amendment), even if it goes against the current federal statutes prescribing election practices.  It ensures that the House truly represents the People.  I currently don't feel like one of the People, because the Representative from my district isn't much interested in my opinion.

Not every state has enough representatives to do this.  I would venture to say that it would be hard to justify for states with less than 10 representatives (37 states), unless for these states only have two Party Seats for parties with the third and fourth highest memberships.

Third, let's consider that there may be a point to the most populous states (there are 8 that qualify for 15+ total Representatives) to still have Regional Representatives.

So lets's take Texas:  32 Representatives.  Let's say 5 Regional Reps (for West, East, Central, Panhandle, and "Baja"), 7 Party Reps, and 20 Proportional Reps.  If you're a Democrat, you'll have some Proportional Reps on your side and possibly a Regional Rep depending on where you live.  If you're a Libertarian, you'll have at least one Party Rep on your side.

California:  Maybe 10 Party Reps, 18 Regional Reps, and 25 Proportional Reps.  If you are a Peace and Freedom member, if you could get more than 4% of the population into your party, you'd have at least two Representatives: a Party seat and at least one Proportional seat.  If those Reps make their mark in Congress, you might even have a shot at a Regional seat as well.

As it is, my vote seems to not count.  I can't decide to cast my vote in an area where it would count.  So none of my Representatives bother to represent me at all.
The original Gerrymander

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