Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Revive Democracy with Fair Representation Act (H.R. 3057)

Fair Representation Act H. R. 3057, Sponsor: Rep. Donald S. Beyer, Jr. [D, VA-8], was introduced June 26th, 2017). The Act would establish the use of Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) in Elections for Representatives in Congress, to Require each State with more than one Representative to Establish Multi-Member Congressional Districts, to Require States to conduct Congressional Redistricting through Independent Commissions, and for other purposes.

American Democracy is not working. We have a President who lost the Popular Vote by almost 3 Million Ballots, a Congress that reflects Gerrymandered District Lines rather than the Will of the People, and a Voting System that discourages rather than encourages the high turnouts that are needed to achieve a genuinely Representative Democracy.

The Republican Party (GOP), which has benefited from this dysfunction, is in no rush to change things. The GOP has at its highest levels facilitated the Voter-Suppression scheming. So it falls to Progressive Democrats, Independents, and Third-Party Activists to Champion Democratic Renewal.

For Democrats, there are two ways to address this Crisis. They can either carry on as they always have and hope they get better at being an Opposition Party within a Fundamentally Flawed System. Or they can Reject the Failed Status Quo and propose to Reform the system in ways that realize the promise of Competitive Elections and Popular Democracy. Representative Don Beyer has chosen the latter route, with his Act.

Rob Riche, Executive Director of FairVote, explains: Under H.R. 3057, all U.S. House Members will be Elected by RCV in New, Larger Multi-Winner Districts. This system would replace today's Map of Safe Red and Blue Seats that Lock Voters into Uncompetitive Districts, Elect Members of Congress with little incentive to work together, and solve problems.

For Americans who are used to the traditional Single-Member-District approach to Electing the U.S. House and State Legislatures, this may seem like a leap into the unknown. It's not. Communities across the Country Elect city Councils, County Commissions, and School Boards on an At-Large basis, effectively making Cities, Counties, and School Districts, into Multi-Member Districts.

Under H.R. 3057, Small States with fewer than Six House Members would Elect All their Representatives from One Statewide, At-Large District. In Large States, Independent Citizen Commissions would Draw several Multi-Member Districts, each of which would choice Three to Five Representatives.

By using RCV, these New Districts would be far more Competitive and likely to Elect Representatives of different Parties. And by using targeting Voting Strategies, Women and People of Color could potentially Win in Regions that have historically been represented by White Men. That's a lot of Democracy, more than most Partisan Republicans, and a good many Partisan Democrats, may be prepared to embrace.

But here's why Democrats should take Beyer's Plan seriously: It focuses attention on Ending the Curse of Gerrymandering, while at the same time presenting the Democrats as a Party that prefers Honest Competition to Political Gamesmanship.

Americans Hate the Current system. they tell Pollsters it is too influenced by Special Interests, too Mangled by Money, too Deferential to Political Careerists, and too Disrespectful toward Voters.

The People, are Angry about Gerrymandering. They want Competitive Elections, and True Representative Democracy. A 2013 Harris Poll found that 74% of Republicans, 73% of Democrats, and 71% of Independents object to the Pro-Politician, Anti-Voter methods of Redistricting that now prevail in most States for Congressional and Legislative Elections.

By supporting Beyer's Assault on Gerrymandering, as well as Constitutional Amendments that would Overturn the Supreme Court's Citizen United Ruling and Guarantee the Right to Vote and have it Counted, Democrats with the Help of Independents would go a long way to the Reforms that Americans are looking for.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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