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house Bill H.R. 3057

Reforming Congressional Elections Through Ranked Choice Voting, Multi-Member Districts, and Independent Redistricting Commissions

Argument in favor

By ending the process of political redistricting, establishing multi-winner districts, and ranked choice voting this bill would give voters more power to elect candidates they support in truly competitive elections. That will encourage bipartisanship while restoring Americans’ faith in their political system.

Dave's Opinion
···
07/09/2017
The rules for this bill are quite complex, but i am a software engineer, so trust me, they are fair and balanced! This is a quantum improvement over the current sad state of elections in our country. I say this because my liberal values are too often excluded from consideration, because those with short-term, myopic and greedy views have rigged the system against people like me. Gerrymandering is a very sophisticated manipulation of the voting system, adding an estimated15% to the vote tally of the manipulating party. This makes electioneering more a dispassionate science and less of a way to gain true consensus. It is inherently manipulative, and exclusionary. Of course, the manipulators could counter "tough, you had a chance to change the rules and you didn't!" To that I say, "Every manipulation invites a counter manipulation, and this manipulation is a pendulum swing back to fairness!"
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Stephen's Opinion
···
07/06/2017
This is the most important bill currently in play for Congress. We need this to help end gerrymandering and elevate the quality of representation for the American people. To be blunt: A representative who voted against this would never have my support - ever
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M's Opinion
···
07/09/2017
North Carolina is a prime example of Republican created gerrymandering. The Republican Party is so skewed in the type of constituents their platform represents, namely big business and big money that blatant gerrymandering is the only way they can win.
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Argument opposed

The existing system for electing members to the House of Representatives doesn’t need to be changed. Besides, states can adopt these reforms if they want to and this bill is unlikely to pass Congress because it’d ask many House lawmakers to vote to make their district more competitive.

Frank's Opinion
···
07/09/2017
This bill will not accomplish purported aims. Almost every voting method, including Ranked Choice Voting (a rebranded "Instant Runoff Voting"), is governed by a mathematical principle called "Duverger's law", which roughly states over time political parties consolidate into two dominant groups. Anyone hoping this bill will alter the political landscape in favor of increased political competition and subsequent improved representation is, therefore, wrong at best and quite possibly lying to Themselves. If there is any effect caused by Ranked Choice Voting, it is to make elected Officials more extreme and more exclusive instead of more moderated and inclusive because Candidates do not need to appeal to as many Voters in the earlier "rounds" of voting than the current "first past the post" method. Now, if You want methods which have been shown to improve representation and subsequent Voter satisfaction, I recommend two steps at least: (1) Increase the size of the House of Representatives. The United States has one of the highest ratios of Constituents to Representatives of any democratic republic. If memory serves correctly, only India has a higher ratio. An increased legislature size allows for greater focus on the needs of individual Voters, lower campaign costs, increased accountability by Voters, and lower rates of corruption as a result. (2) If there is any other voting system to use instead of the traditional first-past-the-post method, it is either approval voting, where You vote for as many Candidates as You approve of, or score/range voting, where You rate each Candidate on a scale of 0 to 10, much like the scoring systems in the Olympics. With both systems, Candidates still keep the incentive to appeal to a broad base of Voters in order to be elected and Voters are able to more accurate express Their desires with respect to Candidates instead picking one and only one to say, "Yeah, that one." Approval voting expresses the total set of Candidates You support while score/range voting expresses HOW MUCH You support Them (or don't, which ever the case may be). The redistricting provisions also will not be as beneficial as they might seem because even independent commissions have their biases because the commission Members have Their biases. A more constructive approach would be to adopt a politically neutral ALGORITHM and have a commission develop redistricting plans in compliance with that algorithm. For example, a state might instruct the commission to use the shortest split line algorithm while preserving neighborhoods, developments, city blocks, etc., and then let the commission do its work using those instructions. Such an approach brings much more objectivity and stability to the political process, reducing not only corruption but opportunities for it and increasing Voter confidence in the political process and the American system of political self-government itself.
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Jim's Opinion
···
07/09/2017
Seems to me this just makes the government even bigger making the corruption machine more unmanageable. The current representatives do as they please...so let's elect more of them. No thanks.
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Bob's Opinion
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07/09/2017
This looks to be a rigging system and enable manipulation of election results NO
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Administration
      Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJune 26th, 2017

What is House Bill H.R. 3057?

This bill — known as the Fair Representation Act — would enact several reforms to elections to the House of Representatives by requiring states to utilize ranked choice voting, have multi-member districts, and redistrict using an independent commission.


Ranked Choice Voting

Rather than having one vote when choosing their member of Congress in a general election, voters would be able to rank candidates 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so forth on their ballot. Voting would occur in rounds, with every ballot’s first choice counted first, and the threshold to win would range from a majority (50% + 1) from single member districts to one-third of the vote for two seats, one-fourth for three seats, one-fifth for four seats, and one-sixth for five seats.

If a candidate exceeds the threshold of votes from ballots where they were first, they’d be elected. Votes for winning candidates are “reweighted” so that any part of the votes that didn’t help elect that candidate count for the next ranked choice in the following round. In a round where no candidates pass the threshold, the candidate in last place is eliminated, and if a voter chose that candidate then their vote would count for their next choice. The process would repeat until all seats are elected.


Multi-Member Districts

The single-winner district mandate that is currently in effect would be repealed and replaced with a multi-winner district mandate for states that have more than one seat in the House. States that have five or fewer members won’t use districts and elect all members statewide.

States with more than six members would hold elections from multi-winner districts that could have no fewer than three and no more than five members, with all a state’s districts with an equal number of persons per seat.

For primary elections, parties would put forward candidates equal to the number elected from that district. States that have “Top Two” rules that advance the top two candidates would advance twice that number from the primary to the general election.


Congressional Redistricting Requirements

States that elect House members from districts (as opposed to statewide) would be required to establish an independent redistricting commission. A nonpartisan agency would develop a pool of 60 candidates, with 20 each from the state’s majority and minority parties, and 20 unaffiliated with either. A bipartisan legislative committee would approve the pool, and the nonpartisan agency would then randomly choose four commission members from each of the majority, minority, and unaffiliated pools. Those twelve would then choose a chair from among the unaffiliated members.

The following criteria, in order of importance, would be considered by the committee when drawing district lines:

  • Contiguity;

  • Consistency with the Voting Rights Act;

  • No district can be completely safe for one political party (based on presidential vote totals from prior elections);

  • As few districts as possible should elect four candidates (to avoid frequent 2-2 splits);

  • As many districts as possible should elect five candidates (to maximize proportionality);

  • Respect for existing political boundaries and communities of interest;

  • Compactness;

  • Respect for visible geographic features.

The commission would hold hearings around the state, publish preliminary maps, and then hold at least three further hearings with chances for public comments. A majority of the commission, including at least one from each of the parties and the unaffiliated groups must approve a final congressional district map by August 15th of years ending in number one. If a state doesn’t establish the nonpartisan agency or legislative committee, if the committee doesn’t approve a pool of applicants, or if the independent commission fails to approve a final plan then a panel of federal judges will do it guided by the same criteria.

Impact

American voters; states and their independent redistricting commissions; and the House of Representatives, particularly its current and future members.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3057

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced this bill to reform congressional elections and incentivize congressional candidates to appeal to a broader range of voters:

“The Fair Representation Act is designed to restore the faith which so many Americans have lost in our political system. This bill would ensure that every voter has their voice represented in Congress, and make real progress towards bipartisan focus on getting results for the American people.”

This legislation has the support of two Democratic cosponsors in the House.


Of Note: You can see how this legislation would affect your state's districts at FairVote.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Mr. Matte / Public Domain)

AKA

Fair Representation Act

Official Title

To establish the use of ranked choice voting 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.

    The rules for this bill are quite complex, but i am a software engineer, so trust me, they are fair and balanced! This is a quantum improvement over the current sad state of elections in our country. I say this because my liberal values are too often excluded from consideration, because those with short-term, myopic and greedy views have rigged the system against people like me. Gerrymandering is a very sophisticated manipulation of the voting system, adding an estimated15% to the vote tally of the manipulating party. This makes electioneering more a dispassionate science and less of a way to gain true consensus. It is inherently manipulative, and exclusionary. Of course, the manipulators could counter "tough, you had a chance to change the rules and you didn't!" To that I say, "Every manipulation invites a counter manipulation, and this manipulation is a pendulum swing back to fairness!"
    Like (290)
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    Share
    This bill will not accomplish purported aims. Almost every voting method, including Ranked Choice Voting (a rebranded "Instant Runoff Voting"), is governed by a mathematical principle called "Duverger's law", which roughly states over time political parties consolidate into two dominant groups. Anyone hoping this bill will alter the political landscape in favor of increased political competition and subsequent improved representation is, therefore, wrong at best and quite possibly lying to Themselves. If there is any effect caused by Ranked Choice Voting, it is to make elected Officials more extreme and more exclusive instead of more moderated and inclusive because Candidates do not need to appeal to as many Voters in the earlier "rounds" of voting than the current "first past the post" method. Now, if You want methods which have been shown to improve representation and subsequent Voter satisfaction, I recommend two steps at least: (1) Increase the size of the House of Representatives. The United States has one of the highest ratios of Constituents to Representatives of any democratic republic. If memory serves correctly, only India has a higher ratio. An increased legislature size allows for greater focus on the needs of individual Voters, lower campaign costs, increased accountability by Voters, and lower rates of corruption as a result. (2) If there is any other voting system to use instead of the traditional first-past-the-post method, it is either approval voting, where You vote for as many Candidates as You approve of, or score/range voting, where You rate each Candidate on a scale of 0 to 10, much like the scoring systems in the Olympics. With both systems, Candidates still keep the incentive to appeal to a broad base of Voters in order to be elected and Voters are able to more accurate express Their desires with respect to Candidates instead picking one and only one to say, "Yeah, that one." Approval voting expresses the total set of Candidates You support while score/range voting expresses HOW MUCH You support Them (or don't, which ever the case may be). The redistricting provisions also will not be as beneficial as they might seem because even independent commissions have their biases because the commission Members have Their biases. A more constructive approach would be to adopt a politically neutral ALGORITHM and have a commission develop redistricting plans in compliance with that algorithm. For example, a state might instruct the commission to use the shortest split line algorithm while preserving neighborhoods, developments, city blocks, etc., and then let the commission do its work using those instructions. Such an approach brings much more objectivity and stability to the political process, reducing not only corruption but opportunities for it and increasing Voter confidence in the political process and the American system of political self-government itself.
    Like (25)
    Follow
    Share
    This is the most important bill currently in play for Congress. We need this to help end gerrymandering and elevate the quality of representation for the American people. To be blunt: A representative who voted against this would never have my support - ever
    Like (256)
    Follow
    Share
    North Carolina is a prime example of Republican created gerrymandering. The Republican Party is so skewed in the type of constituents their platform represents, namely big business and big money that blatant gerrymandering is the only way they can win.
    Like (124)
    Follow
    Share
    This proposal is complex and nuanced, yet sensible; it could go a long way toward ensuring every vote counts. We've already seen what happens when this issue is left to the states to decide (rampant gerrymandering by both parties) so let's address this at the national level. This bill is a terrific example of where the Federalism our founding fathers argued for can strengthen our democracy.
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    Anyone against this bill opposes true representative democracy. Stand up and be counted, sell-outs. This is the most exciting bill I have seen come before congress in my lifetime-it contains within it the seeds of real change, the end of deadlock extremism and a real voice for every voter. The entrenched power brokers of both parties will fight this bill and do their best to kill it quietly but we cannot and must not let them. This is perhaps the only light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I strongly support this bill and urge my representative and every American who wants his or her country back to do the same.
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    This bill I hope would counteract the redistricting in recent years that used fig leaf excuses to redraw district lines to give a political advantage to the party in power at the time. As a result some voters were silenced because they were unable to reasonably reach the toll booths, people became more divided politically as they lost sight of the importance of community best interests when district lines enhanced partisanship, and the popular vote was not reflected in the proportion of legislative seats held. (For analyses, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/03/01/this-is-the-best-explanation-of-gerrymandering-you-will-ever-see/ and http://time.com/collection-post/4527291/2016-election-gerrymandering/and https://www.opendemocracy.net/stein-ringen/democracy-in-america-part-1-what%27s-wrong-with-gerrymandering and http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/18/gerrymandering-is-the-biggest-obstacle-to-american-democracy/). The districts should be drawn by an independent commission on rational bases such as natural boundaries. Elections should not be won or lost based on alterations in districts and changes in voter id laws. Those maneuvers are dishonest. They deprive some citizens of their fundamental right to vote and undermine a democratic process. Ethically and morally, setting politics aside in favor the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, you are impelled to support this bill. Do so!
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    A fair and competitive system of electing members to Congress is essential if we want the people to trust our leaders. Without a fair system of electing our leaders democracy will not survive.
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    This bill may not be perfect, but it is a great step towards restoring our democracy. Gerrymandering is completely anti-American... drawing voting districts to include only people who will vote for you to win? To the House of Reps who may not like this bill b/c it will make their elections "more competitive", I say stand up for your constituents (not your campaign donors) and you will have nothing to worry about. You can start by voting for this bill.
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    Yes! This would do several of a few things I've often thought would close the gap that has formed between political parties in this country. A few other thoughts when it comes to general elections: 1) let us vote for the primary opposite our own party - every Republican chooses what Democrat they can live with and every Democrat chooses what Republican they can live with. If that had been the process this time around, John Kasich would be our President instead of the Drumph. And 2) form a third political party so that things aren't so divisive. AND with a third major party, there's a possibility that the ranked choice voting could have a place in Presidential elections.
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    This would certainly help in fair voting, get rid of all the gerrymandering, u know what I mean. Time for equality and stop short changing the voter booths for the Democrats. I WILL REPEAT THIS AGAIN PLEASE SIGN UP NOW TO VOTE BY MAIL. AVOID NOT ENOUGH BOOTHS, RACISM AND DISCRIMINATION ON VOTING DAY. THE VOTING BOOTHS WILL BE HACKED/RIGGED JUST LIKE SINCE 2000. WE MUST ALL VOTE. 90 MILLION WHO SAT HOME 11/6/2016 VOTE BY MAIL. I AM DISABLED & MY HUSBAND HAS PARKINSONS BUT ANYONE CAN SIGN UP. PLEASE CHECK IT OUT. LETS NOT GET RIPPED OFF AGAIN.
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    Get rid of gerrymandering... Then get rid of Citizens United... Then get rid of the electoral college... Let the people vote... VOTE YES as a start...
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    I changed my mind on this. I like the idea, but it should be done as a Constitutional Amendment. Congress doesn't have the authority to unilaterally force this on every state. This authority is reserved to the states in light of the 10th amendment. With that being said, I hope more states begin adopting this.
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    One man. One vote. Electoral college has always been ridden with corruption. Give all Americans a true vote an elimination gerrymandering all together.
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    Seems to me this just makes the government even bigger making the corruption machine more unmanageable. The current representatives do as they please...so let's elect more of them. No thanks.
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    This looks to be a rigging system and enable manipulation of election results NO
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    Oh my God I've wanted rank choice voting for AGES! Thank everything and please for the love of all good things PASS THIS BILL. Also independent redistricting oud biasedly gerrymandered districts is really really necessary and important.
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    Voting districts is a state issue.
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    Ranked choice voting and independent redistricting are a couple ways to get us a little closer to our ideals of fair and equal representation.
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    Gerrymandering must end and every vote must count. I support.
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