Many voters say Congress is broken. Could proportional representation fix it?

There’s a spectrum of ways to reform the House using proportional representation. Two key factors are how many representatives a multi-member district would have and how winners of House seats would be proportionally allocated.

In 2021, Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia led a group of other House Democrats in reintroducing a proposal that’s been floating around Congress since 2017. The Fair Representation Act would require states to use ranked choice voting for House races. It calls for states with six or more representatives to create districts with three to five members each, and states with fewer than six representatives to elect all of them as at-large members of one statewide district.

Fades,

You know what would fix it?

  • Ranked choice voting
  • Age limits
  • Reverting citizens united decision
  • Force everyone to post their tax returns every time they run for election and every year in between for that matter
  • Stop congress people from trading stocks
  • Stop defanging the goddamn IRS and SEC
  • The rest of the states follow Oregon’s lead and if some political fuck decides to just not show up beyond their max number of absences, they are banned from running in the next election. Would be interested in increasing it to Congress people who have not passed a goddamn thing or even gotten their shit to the committee stage! (Lookin at you Gym J, you SA defending, wife-threatening coward)
Semi-Hemi-Demigod,
Semi-Hemi-Demigod avatar

The Apportionment Act of 1911 set the number of representatives at 435. If that hadn't been passed the Constitution's number of one representative per 30,000 people we'd have a Congress with ten thousand people in it.

I think that would be better.

LordR,

Why not go all the way. Instead of voting only for specific politicians, you vote for a list of a party. On that list you can change the names and even put people from other parties on it. Each candidate of a specific list gives one vote for the party. Then the seats are distributed acording to the percentage of votes for a party. Then the seats are given to the top candidates of each individual list.

That's how it works in Switzerland and it results in a quite diverse parliament. You can even vote for tiny parties as they can band together with bigger parties and add their list votes together. So the Animal Protection party could band together wirh the social party and the votes would not be wasted, even when voting for a small party.

Zorque,

The problem is we expect only one or two people to represent thousands, if not millions, of people. And then for those representatives to somehow agree when representing their base. There needs to be more overlap in representation, or it's just going to continue being a free-for-all team game where no one really agrees with each other unless they're trying to use each other for their own gain.

mrbubblesort,
mrbubblesort avatar

Doesn't matter when one side is actively trying to destroy the system

DigitalFrank,

There’s only one side, and it ain’t us peasants.

match,
@match@pawb.social avatar

That’s the neat part! No it can’t. Democracy is founded upon mutual interest and benefit.

Chocrates,

I am not grokking this.

So lets say I am in a hypothetical 5 person district with ranked choice voting. Lets say there are 2 Million GOP Voters and 1 Million Democrat voters

Would the GOP run 5 candidates and the Democrats would run 5? Would I order the candidates once or would I do that for each seat?

No matter how I am thinking about it, the 5 GOP candidates would get the 2 million votes and the 5 Democrats Democrats would get the 1 million and it would still be a completely red district even though we want it to be 66% to 33%

hh93,

You could do it as Germany does it and have a first past the post for local representation but then scale up the size of the parliament to actually represent the amount of relative votes per party.

Tbf right now that makes our parliament the 2nd biggest in the word which is fucking expensive but at least you have representation and actually having your vote matter in region that’s deeply one-sided against for party

Chocrates,

Doing some back of the napkin math.

US House of Representatives are paid $174,000 US Dollars Annually (crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/RL/RL30064)
If we assume that that number represents half of their total compensation (to include stuff like healthcare and any other benefit they get) that brings us to $348000 US Dollars.

The German Bundestag has 736 members currently and Germany has a population of 84,482,267 people (both pulled from Wikipedia) That means you have 84,482,267/736 = 114785.688859 people per representative. Lets round up to 114800.

The US has a population of 333,287,557 people (per Wikipedia) so we would need 333,287,557/114800 = 2903.20171603 representatives, call it 3000 to be easy.

So if we followed Germany’s representation we would cost the US taxpayers 3000 * 348000 = $1044000000 so just over a Billion dollars a year to fund just their salaries and healthcare and stuff. That is an eye-watering number and larger than I expected when I started this stupid journey.

For context though, in FY 2021 The United States allocated $740.5 Billion dollars to the Department of Defense (defense.gov/…/dod-releases-fiscal-year-2021-budge…)

So that is roughly 1/740 = 0.00135135135% of the Defense Budget. Seems more reasonable that way. I’d much rather fund more and diverse members of congress to actually do things that fund military contractors building bombs to blow up Palestinian children.

Anyhow not sure why I did that but it seems like it’d be fine to expand the House of Representatives if we think we can do it in an equitable way.

Let me know if I got anything wrong about the German Bundestag, I have no prior knowledge other than what you told me and what I grabbed from Wikipedia

hh93,

And it’s not just the salary for the representatives but they all also have a state-paid office and staff - so yeah…

There have recently been reforms to make the districts bigger to get less direct representation in total resulting in a smaller size overall.

I’d expect that especially with a 2-party system it’s not as bad as you calculated though since the worst problem here is that a local party from Bavaria is winning almost all the direct representation spots there but gets way less votes in total in Germany which results to every other party sending way more people than they would need

Lodespawn,
GiantRobotTRex, (edited )

You would rank them once.

If we were taking the top 5 candidates in a FPTP election, once a candidate receives 16.66% of the vote they would be guaranteed to get a seat because it’s impossible for 5 other candidates to also have at least 16.66% of the vote. So the election threshold in this election is 16.66%. In general when selecting n winners, it is 1 / (n+1).

The scoring takes place in rounds and every round either a candidate will earn a seat or a candidate will be removed (votes can be reallocated to them in later rounds so they’re not permanently out).

When a candidate exceeds the election threshold they win a seat and their excess votes are then redistributed to the other candidates. Suppose Rep1 wins the first round by 1 million votes over the election threshold. Their excess votes are redistributed based on what the voters’ next preferred candidate is. E.g. Of the voters who voted for Rep1, 70% had Rep2 as their next choice and 30% had Rep3 as their next choice. So Rep2 earns 700,000 votes and Rep3 earns 300,000 votes. Then the next round of scoring begins.

If no candidate reaches the election threshold that round, the votes from the lowest scoring candidate are eliminated and their votes are redistributed based on the voters’ next choice similar to how the excess votes from a winner are redistributed (except now it’s 100% of their votes). Then onto the next round.


If we assume that everyone votes down party lines, then every time votes are redistributed (whether because a seat was won or because a candidate was eliminated that round) the votes would only be redistributed to someone of their same party. If Democrats have 33% of the vote, then when a Republican wins a seat the excess votes just get redistributed to other Republicans. When a Democrat candidate is removed from a round their votes just go to the next Democrat candidates. The Republicans aren’t taking away any of the Democrats’ slice of the pie. Inside that blue slice there might be several rounds of shuffling votes around until one of them reaches the election threshold but none of the Democrat votes would ever get redistributed to the Republicans.

cybersandwich,

The biggest problem with ranked choice voting is that it always takes several paragraphs of explanation. Its like someone explaining a board game. .at some point, let’s just play and we’ll figure it out.

docAvid,

It takes explaining to understand exactly how it gives us better results, but the rules for the “players” are simple, just pick your first preference, second preference, and so on for all candidates. Probably simpler than tic tac toe.

PigsInClover,

Also I learned how ranked choice voting works from a 2-3 minute youtube video, and it was explained in a way that middle schoolers could understand.

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