A Better Way to Vote

A Better Way to Vote

- in House of Representatives


Voters casting their ballots in Wisconsin last November.

Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal, via Associated Press

To the Editor:

Re “How to Make Congress Bipartisan” (Op-Ed, July 8): Reihan Salam and Rob Richie argue that proportional representation would make Congress more bipartisan, but having voters rank up to five candidates in large multimember districts has two problems:

First, many voters, who are ill informed about the candidates running in single-member districts, would find it much more difficult to rank five candidates.

Second, voters would not have a single representative to turn to for grievances but a set of representatives, none of whom may live in their own districts.

There is a better way to achieve proportional representation, which has been successfully used for many years in Germany and several other countries. Each citizen casts two votes, one for a local representative in the voter’s district and a second for a national party.

The second vote, used in Germany to elect half of Parliament, ensures that underrepresented parties at the district level get additional seats and proportional shares in the entire Parliament.

Applied to the House of Representatives, voters would have local representatives determined by their first votes, as is true today. Their second votes would ensure that parties are represented according to their national proportions, which gerrymandered districts — a big problem today — could not prevent.


The writer is a professor of politics at New York University and the author of “Mathematics and Democracy.”

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