The good news is that bias can be removed through statutes replacing single-member district elections with fair voting plans that are grounded in our own traditions. As recently as 1968, many House members were elected in larger districts that had more than one representative. Fair voting alternatives to winner-take-all elections are increasingly common in local elections.
FairVote has drawn voting plans for every state that are designed to allow like-minded voters to elect representatives in proportion to their voting strength. Candidates would run in larger congressional districts, with three to five seats. Rather than nine single-member districts, for example, Massachusetts would have three districts that would each elect three representatives.
The simplest fair-voting system would give each voter one potent vote. In a three-seat district, a third of voters would have the power to elect a preferred candidate. This math means that like-minded voters reflecting a district’s left, right and center would consistently elect preferred candidates. In Massachusetts, each district would probably elect a Republican, a Democrat and an independent-minded centrist leaning to the left. Louisiana’s middle seat would likely go to a more conservative centrist.
Nearly every voter in every election would end up with shared representation — meaning both Republicans and Democrats winning in every corner of every state. Nationally, partisan bias would be eliminated, so the party clearly having a better year would almost always win more seats.
Fair voting has great political potential, grounded in major parties that see the value in their candidates winning seats across the nation. It also would probably boost the election of women and racial minorities.
Simply highlighting existing biases helps focus attention on Congress. House Republicans kept their majority this year only through incumbency and structural bias. We should ask for fairness — and openness to reforms that establish what every American can support: a level playing field.