A seemingly ingenious, simple solution to nonrepresentative government and gerrymandering

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/12/03/a-seemingly-ingenious-simple.html


I think there should be at least a ten-fold increase in the house, and that the senate should either be abolished or shift to proportional representation (also with a substantial increase in the number of seats).


Each party will just put two candidates on the ballot. Not a lot of people will split their vote, so in most cases you’ll still wind up with one unified congressional vote, even if it is split among two congresspeople.

Not sure how it is in your state but in Michigan you can’t have more than one party member running for a single seat; presumably this guy is suggesting that that be the case even though there are two seats at play.

Every fantasy football player knows how to make redistricting fair: hold a draft and take turns.

Drafting order would be determined by the currently held seats. The largest margin winner would go first, and gets to draw the first district. Then, the next largest margin winner draws their choice for the next district, and so on. The last district (the closest race) would be the remaining unallocated space.

There would have to be rules that say “you must leave the remaining unallocated space in a single contiguous block”, and perhaps a few other rules, but no party gets to draw the other party’s district. The incentive will be to draw each district so their own party will win it in future elections, and try to stack it so they get first pick in the next draft. They simply can’t manipulate the remainder.


Interesting idea, but as you say, first things first. There are a whole bunch of things that can be fixed to address these problems, whether it’s breaking the duopoly or ending gerrymandering or reforming the Electoral College or getting rid of Citizens United or just making it easier for people to vote. As much as I’d like to see a simple solution that cuts through the multi-faceted problem of non-representative government, this isn’t it.


This sounds to me like a pointlessly complicated way to make a first past the post district system look like pure proportional representation.


Gerrymandering means making sure your rivals win a few seats with a huge vote margin, and lose many seats by a little margin. I fail to see how it coul still work if you then give each winner an amount of power proportional to their vote margin.

Putting extra people on the ballot under this system would be just as detrimental as it would be under our current system. The idea isn’t to give voters more than one vote.

The only thing they could gerrymander would be number of people in a district. They aren’t allowed to do that, but they could do it within acceptable tolerances to get a few % points. Also, I’m not sure if they care if they are allowed to do it. We’ve had some electoral maps declared illegal, but that doesn’t overturn the election that was held on the illegal map.


How is this ingenious? The fundamental problem is not being able to get politicians to change the system to something more fair. This does nothing to get around that.


Really you could take it two steps further to handle both those issues:

  1. All candidates get a fractional vote according to the results (but only the one or two with the most votes get seats, committee appointments, etc)
  2. Those fractional votes are also weighted by population.
    …Or maybe you simplify the thing and let each each representative cast as many votes as they received.

Or simplify the whole thing even more and just get rid of first past the post altogether. Problem solved :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

The Representatives are meant to represent a portion of the People, not of the peoples’ opinions. They’re supposed to outsmart the people and vote their true interests. Senators were originally appointed by the State Legislature. America was never meant to be a democracy.

I’m not seeing it. Ranked choice aids in dismantling a two-party system, but I don’t see how it fights against gerrymandering.

I’d given him an E for effort save for this smug comment…

There. I’ve now fixed our democracy.

No, Mr. Salzberg, you haven’t, for the very reason Cory lays out. This just makes the entire process more complicated. It doesn’t prevent gerrymandering. It does make things harder for third party candidates though. Way to go, bro.

Guess we’d better not HAVE any then. Wouldn’t want to make a bunch of dead white slaveowners MAD.


It was meant to be a white supremacist plutocracy.


Or just use one of the many open source redistricting algorithms developed and generate 2 different maps from random seeds. Then have the people vote which map to use.

Nope. Computer algorithms may seem fair to someone capable of logically analyzing them, but to half the voters in this country, they may as well be witchcraft. (Regardless of how simple they are, the political parties who are opposed to change will scream lies about how untrustworthy they are.) We need a system that ordinary humans can understand at a gut level.

When six-year-old siblings are tasked with sharing a treat, Mom will say “Alice, you get to cut the cake, and Bob gets to choose his slice first.” That’s the level of complexity needed here - something that a six year old child can intuitively grasp as fair. Any solution more complex is incomprehensible to a significant fraction of the population.

This problem revolves around humans, not logic or technology.


You are right: intuitive is better.

The fact that we accept the current system to me means that that average person does not care about the process. There is nothing intuitive about how redistricting is done currently.

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