Proportional representation elections. I vote, “Yes!”

As a resident of Marin County, California and a Republican, many of my votes are essentially nullified. Because there is a significant Democrat majority in my county my votes for President, Congressman and Senator are invariably nullified. That is why I favor proportional representation.

There is nothing new about this notion. In this election cycle, the primary process for many Republican state primaries will employ such a system.

Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems by which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. If 30% of the electorate support a particular political party, then roughly 30% of seats will be won by that party. The essence of such systems is that all votes contribute to the result: not just a plurality, or a bare majority, of them. There are several methods for this type of election (footnote). A couple states have even tried it.

Proportional representation would likely give third parties and even independent candidates a chance to win more fair representation for their views in Congress and create a more robust public policy process. Even a minority political party could capture seats in the nation’s legislature and showcase their philosophy and ideas in action for the entire nation to see. Another result could be more true transpartisanship as the two larger parties work to build coalitions with the burgeoning third parties.

This would not require a Constitutional Amendment to be practiced. The relevant clause in the Constitution states: “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.” As noted, the Republican Primary elections already apply proportional voting, in part. The rules governing the Republican Primaries state:

States that hold their primaries between March 1 and March 14, 2016, will award their delegates on a proportional basis. States voting on March 15, 2016, or later will award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis. 

If proportional voting had been used in 2012:

Obama would have lost, 256 – 282

The methodology is as follows:

  1. Assign 2 electoral votes for the winner of the popular vote in each state – Obama 52, Romney 48
  2. Assign each Congressional District according to its winner – Obama 200, Romney 234.
  3. Assign all three votes for DC to Obama
  4. Assign Jesse Jackson, Jr’s vacant seat to Obama

Romney = 48+234 = 282 Obama = 52+200+3+1 = 256

There are 9 states where the Presidential pick differs from the congressional delegation:

  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Iowa (tied 2 – 2)
  • Michigan
  • Nevada (tied 2-2)
  • New Jersey (tied 6 – 6)
  • Ohio (12 – 4)
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Interestingly, this exactly corresponds to the “battleground states” of 2012.

Even using the Daily Kos analysis (certainly biased to an Obama “win”), we note a different 2012 result:

  1. Obama won 295 congressional districts, Romney 230
  2. Again, allocating 52 state popular winner votes to Obama, 48 to Romney
  3. And, allocate DC’s 3 to Obama, we get…

Obama loses to Romney 260 – 278

California is probably the best candidate for this type of reform. Its large number of delegates would be more likely to dramatically showcase the benefits and inclusiveness of the proportional representation system.

Roy Filly


There are two Proportional Representation (PR) voting types: party list PR and the single transferable vote (STV). Mixed member proportional representation (MMP), a hybrid method that uses party list PR as its proportional component, is also usually considered a distinct PR method.

With party list PR, political parties define candidate lists and voters vote for a list. The relative vote for each list determines how many candidates from each list are actually elected. Lists can be “closed” or “open“; open lists allow voters to indicate individual candidate preferences and vote for independent candidates. Voting districts can be as large as a province or an entire nation.

The single transferable vote uses smaller districts, with voters ranking individual candidates in order of preference. During the count, as candidates are elected or eliminated, surplus or discarded votes that would otherwise be wasted are transferred to other candidates according to the preferences. STV enables voters to vote across party lines and to elect independent candidates.

Mixed member proportional representation (MMP), also called the additional member system (AMS), is a hybrid, two-tier, system combining a non-proportional Plurality/Majoritarian election and a compensatory regional or national party list.



About Roy Filly

Please read my first blog in which I describe myself and my goals.
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One Response to Proportional representation elections. I vote, “Yes!”

  1. trailbee says:

    You know I live in Sunny California, and YESSSSS, that would be a lovely change. What a great alternative.

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