Single-member districts enable legislatures to gerrymander and lead to litigation that too often puts election-determining power into the hands of the courts.
With multi-member districts and proportional representation, gerrymandering would be futile, and the courts would not be in the position to frequently make decisions that have a huge impact on our elections.
WASHINGTON, DC – Following the North Carolina Supreme Court’s Friday decision in Harper v. Hall, which paves the way for more extreme partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina, Fix Our House released the following statement from co-founder Lee Drutman:
“When districts have only one representative each, district boundaries can be cynically manipulated to favor one party or group over another. But gerrymandering is useless in multi-member districts with multiple representatives elected in proportion to their party’s amount of support. Moving to a system of proportional representation is a proven and constitutional way to address this problem plaguing our democracy.”
The incessant litigation that empowers the courts to make decisions that dramatically impact election outcomes is also made possible by single-member districts. As Lee Drutman and University of Chicago Law Professor Aziz Huq have written, America’s system of single-member districts “invites the judicialization of elections.” They write:
“[T]he court can play a spoiler role for democracy only because we have a closely contested, hyperpartisan two-party system organized around single-member districts. Either these are gerrymandered to be safe, or they’re fought to razor-sharp margins. Small vote shifts then have seismic reverberations. Lawyers are standing by. . . Judges, not voters, then decide who wins.”
Proportional representation would avoid this problem of election judicialization, putting power back into the hands of voters where it belongs. With multiple elected winners representing the full political diversity of each district, there would no longer be a need for so much litigation over gerrymandering, and there would be fewer opportunities for hard-fought election contests to turn into hard-fought legal contests.
Congress has the power under Article I, Section IV of the Constitution to alter how congressional elections work and allow states to elect their representatives proportionally. Without taking action like this, we will continue to be stuck in an ever-escalating doom loop of two-party warfare in a combustible electoral and legal system.