[EM] Proportional Representation In The USA

VoteFair electionmethods at votefair.org
Mon Apr 19 16:51:22 PDT 2021

Here's the link to an 8-page PDF (Acrobat) document I wrote recently. 
It's titled "Proportional Representation In The USA."


This document answers the question "Which PR methods do you recommend?" 
which came from an organization that is seeking to better understand 
election-method reforms in the United States.

A shortened version, without formatting and without the three tables, 
follows my signature.

Anyone is welcome to share this document with people who are interested 
in how PR can be implemented in the United States.

As always, constructive feedback is welcome.

Richard Fobes
The VoteFair guy
Author of the book "Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections"

................. highlights ................

Title: "Proportional Representation In The USA"


The PR method recommended in this document, which does not have a name, 
uses the best elements from the most popular PR methods already in use 
by various nations.  Yet the recommended combination differs from what 
any nation currently uses.  A later section ("Why Many Nations Still Use 
Primitive PR Methods") explains why this gap occurs.

Step One:  Ranked Ballots, And More Nominees

Three election-method changes are needed before the United States can 
adopt a well-designed PR method.

* Ranked ballots.  Voters and election officials need to gain experience 
marking and counting ranked ballots in both primary elections and 
general elections.  On a ranked ballot the voter indicates their first 
choice, second choice, third choice, and so on.

* Good vote-counting method.  Ranked Choice Including Pairwise 
Elimination (RCIPE) or some other good vote-counting method (possibly a 
Condorcet method) needs to be used to count the ranked ballots. 
Instant-runoff voting (IRV) does not qualify because it too often yields 
unfair results.  (STAR voting does not qualify because it uses rating 
ballots, not ranked ballots.)

* Multiple nominees.  The Republican and Democratic primary elections 
must nominate two (or more) candidates per party to compete in the 
general election.  If the RCIPE vote-counting method is used, the 
candidate who is eliminated last (just before identifying the single 
remaining candidate) deserves to be the party’s second nominee.

Step Two:  Two Representatives Per District Plus Statewide Representatives

After voters and election officials have gained experience using ranked 
ballots in both primary elections and general elections, three more 
changes are needed.

* Two representatives per district.  Each district will elect two 
representatives.  Both winners will represent the citizens in their 
district.  Typically the two representatives will be from different 
political parties.

* Favorite party.  Each voter will answer the question "Which political 
party is your favorite?"  This easy-to-answer ballot question is common 
in many nations, but it will be a new concept for US voters.

* Statewide representatives.  Some statewide representatives will be 
elected to represent voters who, according to their favorite-party 
ballot marks, are not well-represented by the district-specific 
representatives.  The choice of representatives to fill these 
party-specific seats will be done using the available ballot 
information, without any influence from political-party insiders.

After the PR changes, the legislature will have two kinds of legislative 

* District-specific seats.  Most representatives (about 80 to 85 
percent) will get elected to this kind of seat.

* Statewide seats.  These seats compensate for any political parties 
that fail to win as many district-specific seats as would be expected 
based on how many voters prefer each political party.

Second-Most Representative Versus Second-Most Popular

The most confusing part of understanding PR is that there are two 
different kinds of "popularity."

* Runner-up candidate.  A candidate who is second-most popular in a 
primary election is the runner-up candidate who could replace the 
winning candidate if the winner was disqualified or became unavailable.

* Second-most representative candidate.  A candidate who is second-most 
popular in a general election is the strongest opponent to the winning 
candidate, and represents an entirely different group of voters compared 
to the winner.  This kind of popularity is named second-most 
representative to distinguish it from the ambiguous term second-most 

Filling The Legislative Seats

Within each district, the winner of the first district-specific seat 
will be the candidate who is most popular in that district.

The winner of the second district-specific seat will be the second-most 
representative candidate.  This is the candidate who is most popular 
among the voters who are not well-represented by the first-seat winner.

The statewide seats are awarded to candidates who were not popular 
enough to win a district seat, yet are the most popular candidates 
associated with the political parties that did not win enough 
district-specific seats.  (Specifically a statewide seat is awarded to 
any qualifying candidate in any district who received the most 
first-choice votes from voters who also marked the seat-winning party as 
their favorite party.)

Both Kinds Of PR


* Party-based PR asks voters to indicate their favorite political party, 
and then fills legislative seats in ways that improve the match between 
party popularity and the number of elected representatives from each 
party.  The goal of party-based PR is to enable small ("third") parties 
to more easily win elections, and to defeat the tactic of gerrymandering 
district boundaries.

* Candidate-specific PR elects multiple (two or more) candidates who, as 
a group, best represent the voters.  Specifically each winner represents 
a different group of voters.  For example, a two-seat version of 
candidate-specific PR used in an "average" district in the United States 
would elect one Republican and one Democrat.  The goal of 
candidate-specific PR is to give representation to the large number of 
voters who are not represented when a district is represented by just 
one representative.

Economic Prosperity

Widespread economic prosperity will increase for states that adopt these 
recommended election-method reforms.  Why will the state's prosperity 

Currently the largest campaign contributions flow to politicians who 
protect tax breaks, subsidies, and legal monopolies that financially 
benefit the people who give these contributions.  As a result, too many 
businesses (especially out-of-state businesses) are squeezing too much 
money from consumers, essential workers, employees, and (at least 
through IRAs) investors.  When too many businesses each take a too-big 
slice of economic pie, not much pie remains for the employees and 
customers of that state’s businesses.

In opposition, most voters want politicians to reduce such corruption, 
which undermines the state's economy.  When money-based tactics have 
less influence on election results, politicians will dramatically shift 
their allegiance from the biggest campaign contributors to us, the 
voters.  What most of us want is less corruption, wiser solutions to the 
problems that governments are expected to solve, and full democracy.

Political Changes

Initially after a state adopts the PR method recommended here, the 
number of elected representatives from third parties will increase. 
This is the intended goal of PR.

Yet in response the state's Republican and Democratic parties can change 
their actions and platforms to win back at least some of the third-party 
voters.  But if these reforms are not sufficient, it's likely that 
either a third party will grow or either the Republican or Democratic 
party will split.

The party that suffers the biggest decline will be whichever party fails 
to offer candidates who voters like.  This is the change that will take 
us to higher levels of democracy, where voters will have more influence 
and campaign contributors will have less influence.


The full document is at:


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