Our democracy isn’t very healthy right now. For over 150 years we have had the same two political parties, which worked out okay until one of them started becoming authoritarian. About 100 years ago, Americans responded to the democratic challenges of the day by implementing innovative ideas such as citizen initiatives and recalls of elected officials. Today we need more reforms to face current challenges.
I am running as a “third-party” candidate, and one reason not to vote for third-party candidates is the so-called “spoiler effect,” where voting for the candidate you want ends up helping the candidate you dislike and hurting the candidate you dislike slightly less. That is no way to run elections.
The answer is Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV), where you rank the candidates from first to last (you can rank fewer if at some point you don’t care which of the remaining choices wins). After the first-choice votes are tallied, if no one has a majority, the last-place candidate is eliminated, those voters’ second-choice votes are tallied, and the cycle repeats until someone has a majority (RCV can also be used for elections with multiple winners, such as city councils and school boards). RCV eliminates the spoiler effect.
But RCV does much more than that. When candidates are campaigning to be your second- or third-place choice, they will campaign more positively and be more civil to your first-choice candidate. That shift in campaign dynamics will bring out more decent people to run for office, as they won’t be turned off by all the negative campaigning they see every election cycle.
The American election system relies heavily on “winner-take-all” elections, and these distort our legislative bodies. For example, in the 2022 California State Senate elections, Democrats won 75% of the 20 seats with only 62% of the vote. In Wisconsin, gerrymandering meant that in 2018 Republicans won 64% of the seats despite earning only 47% of the votes! That is a tyranny of the minority, and they can perpetuate that tyranny for decades.
Proportional representation aims to eliminate these distortions following a simple principle: if a party gets X% of the vote, they should get roughly X% of the seats. Practically every other advanced democracy in the world does this except America. The result would be legislatures that reflect the will of the people who elected them. The American Solidarity Party is strongly in favor of the idea that all people have a right to have their voices heard in government, not just a few.
How might proportional representation work? There are many different possibilities, so consider just this one: suppose every Congressional district elected 5 representatives instead of 1 (RCV would need to be used, otherwise each district would just send 5 Democrats or 5 Republicans). So a district where Republicans win 55% of the vote would likely send 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats to the House, thus reflecting the voters’ intent much more precisely than sending 1 Republican and 0 Democrats.
Proportional representation also gives third parties a chance to grow, as they would not need 50% of the votes in one district just to get one representative.