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Fairer elections

Proposed laws for fairly electing members of Congress

If there should be a desire to improve how U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives (members of Congress) are elected, here is a sample wording that could be used in a state's laws to implement fair voting methods. (Note that elections for U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives are controlled by state laws, not the U.S. Constitution.)

After a few states have adopted fairer methods of voting for Senators and Representatives, Congress will be more likely to implement a Constitutional Amendment that will allow Presidents and Vice Presidents to be elected more fairly. Such fair methods of voting will significantly reduce the influence of money on election results.

 

The first section implements order-of-preference voting for political parties. Other sections explain how the results are used.

Section 1. Each year at least nine months in advance of an election involving the election of a U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative, and not more than sixteen months in advance of such an election, all the voters shall be allowed to use ballots or voting methods to indicate their order of preference for political parties using the method described in Section 4. The political-party preferences shall be used as explained in Sections 2 and 3.
The number of political parties listed on the ballot for political-party preferences shall be limited to either ten political parties or the number of political parties from which state legislators and U.S. Congressional members from this state have been elected within the last ten years, whichever number is larger. If all the state legislators and U.S. Congressional members have been elected from fewer than ten political parties, the state legislature shall establish rules for selecting additional political parties up to the limit of ten political parties, and those rules shall be designed such that political parties that are more popular shall be more likely to be listed.

The second section explains how U.S. Senators would be elected.

Section 2. The state legislature shall provide for voters to elect U.S. Senators using ballots or voting methods in which each voter indicates their order of preference for U.S. Senatorial candidates using the method described in Section 4.
Option A: Both U.S. Senators are to be elected in the same year. [This option requires amending the U.S. Constitution because the Constitution currently requires that the two Senators from a state be elected in different years.] All the U.S. Senatorial candidates shall appear on the ballot together and shall compete in the same race.
Option B: The two U.S. Senators shall not be elected in the same year except if necessary to temporarily fill a vacancy. If both U.S. Senators are to be elected in the same year, all the U.S. Senatorial candidates shall appear on the ballot together and shall compete in the same race.
The election of U.S. Senators shall be done without the use of districts. Write-in candidate names shall not be accommodated.
The preference information on the ballots shall be combined to create a statewide Senatorial VoteFair tally table using the method described in Section 5. The overall order of preference for U.S. Senatorial candidates shall be calculated using VoteFair ranking as described in Section 6 and shall be based on the numbers in the statewide Senatorial VoteFair tally table. If the overall order of preference contains any tie, the tie shall be resolved as described in Section 7.
Option A: The winner of the first U.S. Senate seat shall be the most-preferred candidate according to VoteFair ranking, and the winner of the second U.S. Senate seat shall be determined using the method described in Section 8. If, to fill a vacancy, just one U.S. Senator is to be elected, the winner shall be the VoteFair-ranked most-preferred candidate who is not from the same political party as the other U.S. Senator.
Option B: The winner of the available U.S. Senate seat shall be the VoteFair-ranked most-preferred candidate who is not from the same political party as the other, previously elected, U.S. Senator. If, to fill a vacancy, both U.S. Senators are elected in the same year, all the U.S. Senatorial candidates shall appear on the ballot together and shall compete in the same race and the winner of the first U.S. Senate seat shall be the VoteFair-ranked most-preferred candidate, and the winner of the second Senate seat shall be determined using the method described in Section 8.
The statewide order of preference for political parties shall be determined using the methods described in Sections 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.
Option A: The statewide VoteFair-ranked most-preferred and second-most-representative political parties shall be allowed three U.S. Senatorial candidates each. If, because of a vacancy, just one U.S. Senator is to be elected, the most-preferred and second-most representative political parties shall be allowed two candidates each. The third-most-representative and fourth-most-representative political parties shall be allowed one U.S. Senatorial candidate each.
Option B: The statewide VoteFair-ranked most-preferred and second-most-representative political parties shall be allowed two U.S. Senatorial candidates each. If, because of a vacancy, both U.S. Senators are to be elected in the same election, the most-preferred and second-most representative political parties shall be allowed a third candidate each. The third-most-representative and fourth-most-representative political parties shall be allowed one U.S. Senatorial candidate each.
The four most-popular political parties shall not be required to enter as many candidates as they are allowed. If the total number of candidates for all political parties is fewer than seven, additional political parties shall be allowed to have one candidate each up to a total limit of seven candidates for all political parties.

The third section explains how U.S. Representatives would be elected. Except in the smallest states, each state would have at least one statewide U.S. Representative who is chosen from a political party that is not adequately represented by the district-based U.S. Representatives.

Section 3. The state legislature shall provide for voters to elect members of the U.S. House of Representatives using ballots or voting methods in which each voter can indicate their order of preference for the U.S. Representative candidates in their district using the method described in Section 4.
Two districtwide U.S. Representatives shall be elected from each district. All candidates for both districtwide U.S. Representative seats in same district shall appear on the ballot together and shall compete in the same race.
The information from one district indicating voter preferences for the candidates in that district shall be combined to create a districtwide VoteFair tally table using the method described in Section 5. In each district the overall districtwide order of preference for districtwide U.S. Representative candidates shall be based on the numbers in the districtwide Representative VoteFair tally table and calculated using VoteFair ranking as described in Section 6.
Option C: Write-in candidate names shall not be allowed for the election of U.S. Representatives.
Option D: Write-in candidate names shall be allowed for the election of U.S. Representatives. Write-in candidate names shall be handled as described in Section 9.
In each district the candidate who is most preferred according to VoteFair ranking shall be elected to one of the two districtwide U.S. Representative seats. The candidate elected to the other districtwide U.S. Representative seat in the same district shall be determined as described in Section 8 based on the districtwide Representative tally table..
In each district the districtwide overall order of preference for political parties shall be calculated as described in Sections 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 and shall be based on the ballots from only that district. The most-preferred political party in each district shall be allowed three districtwide U.S. Representative candidates in that district. The second-most-representative political party in each district shall be allowed two districtwide U.S. Representative candidates in that district. The third-most-representative and fourth-most-representative political parties in each district shall be allowed one districtwide U.S. Representative candidate each. If the four most-representative political parties in a district do not enter as many candidates as they are allowed, additional political parties shall be allowed to have one districtwide U.S. Representative candidate each up to a total limit of seven districtwide U.S. Representative candidates for all political parties.
There shall be two U.S. Representatives who shall be statewide U.S. Representatives. [States with a large population would increase this number, and states with a small population would decrease this number.]
Each political party shall be allowed to conduct a primary election for candidates for statewide U.S. Representative seats provided that all the candidates from the same political party compete in the same race, and provided that the voting methods described in Sections 4, 5, and 6 are used to identify the overall order of preference among each political party's candidates, and provided that the candidate who is least-preferred is not qualified to be elected as a statewide U.S. Representative. If an exact tie occurs, the political party is allowed to resolve it by adding one tie-breaking vote to the tally table. If a political party does not conduct such a primary election, or if this primary election does not meet the stated requirements, the most-preferred statewide candidate in a target party shall be regarded as the candidate who is from the target party and who is a districtwide U.S. Representative candidate in any district within the state and who did not win a districtwide U.S. Representative seat and who received the most first-choice votes from voters who also designated, without any tie, the target party as their most-preferred political party.
Statewide U.S. Representative seats shall be filled by U.S. Representative candidates from political parties identified using the following method. The purpose of this method is to increase the proportionality of representation based on the political-party preferences of the voters.
Using the previous year's statewide political-party preference information for each political party, the number of voters in the state who rank that political party as their first preference shall be counted. A voter who assigns more than one political party to the highest preference shall have their single vote split into equal decimal numbers distributed among the political parties assigned by that voter to the highest preference. The sum of all the first-choice votes for all the political parties shall be regarded as the number of voters in the state who expressed their first choice for any political party. The number of first-choice votes for each political party shall be multiplied by the total number of the state's U.S. Representatives, including both statewide and districtwide U.S. Representatives. The resulting number for each political party shall be divided by the total number of voters in the state who expressed their first choice for any political party, and all significant decimal digits shall be retained. These numbers shall be regarded as the proportional target numbers for the number of U.S. Representatives from each political party.
Statewide U.S. Representative seats shall be filled by repeating the following three steps until the available statewide U.S. Representative seats have been filled. First, for each political party, the number of statewide and districtwide U.S. Representative seats either filled by candidates from that political party or assigned to be filled by candidates from that political party shall be subtracted from the proportional target number for the same political party. Second, the political party for which the difference calculated in the first step is the largest non-negative number shall be regarded as the target party for the next available statewide U.S. Representative seat. Third, the most-preferred candidate from the political party identified in the second step shall be elected to the next statewide U.S. Representative seat.
If there is a tie in any of the calculations regarding the election of a districtwide U.S. Representative or statewide U.S. Representative, the tie shall be resolved using the method described in Section 7.

The fourth section explains the rules for implementing order-of-preference voting.

Section 4. For any race in which order-of-preference voting is required, the state legislatures shall allow all voters to indicate their first preference, second preference, third preference, and so on, for all the choices in the race. A voter shall be allowed to indicate a different preference level for each choice in the race. A voter shall be allowed to indicate ties among any choices. The order of choices on any ballot shall not be influenced by any request from any political party.
Ballots and voting methods shall be designed to make it difficult for voters to unintentionally indicate preference levels in ways that are ambiguous. If a voter assigns the same choice to more than one preference level, the highest indicated preference level for that choice shall be used. If a voter does not assign a choice to any preference level, the lowest preference level, below the preference levels of all the assigned choices, shall be used. On any ballot or any combination of ballots the skipping of preference levels and the shifting of choices to higher or lower preference levels without changing the relative preferences shall have no effect on the outcome of the election. Valid preference information shall not be ignored because of invalid markings elsewhere on the ballot.
The state legislature shall enact legislation as needed to ensure that votes are counted without error and ensures that all citizens who choose in advance of an election not to go to their polling place are allowed to vote by mail in a way that does not require tools beyond a pen and pencil.

The fifth section explains how to combine order-of-preference votes into a VoteFair tally table.

Section 5. A VoteFair tally table shall list every possible combination of two choices. For each combination of two choices, the VoteFair tally table shall indicate the number of voters who prefer the first of the two choices over the second choice, the number of voters who indicate no preference between the two choices, and the number of voters who prefer the second of the two choices over the first choice. The sum of the three numbers that apply to each pair of choices shall equal the number of voters who cast valid votes in that race. All the numbers in all VoteFair tally tables shall be made available to the public.

The sixth section explains VoteFair ranking, which converts a VoteFair tally table into an overall order-of-preference result.

Section 6. VoteFair ranking, which is described as follows, shall be used to calculate the overall order of preference for any race based on the information in the VoteFair tally table. Every possible sequence of choices shall be considered and a preference rating shall be calculated for each such sequence. The preference rating for a sequence shall equal the sum of the applicable tally numbers for each pair combination, which means that if there are three choices labeled A, B, and C, the preference rating for the sequence of B being the first overall preference, C being the second overall preference, and A being the third overall preference equals the number of voters who prefer B over C, plus the number of voters who prefer B over A, plus the number of voters who prefer C over A. The sequence that has the highest preference rating shall indicate the overall order of preference expressed by the voters. If more than one sequence has the same highest preference rating, the overall order of preference contains at least one tie and the tied choices and their preference levels shall be identified. Each such calculated overall order of preference shall be made available to the public.

The seventh section explains how ties would be resolved.

Section 7. If an overall order of preference contains any tie, the State Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction over the recounting and checking of votes and declaring any adjustments. If an exact tie persists, the State Supreme Court shall resolve the tie by generating and introducing into the VoteFair tally table a single order-of-preference vote that contains no ties and does not alter the overall order of preference except to eliminate all ties, and this untied result shall be used as the final overall order of preference. If the State Supreme Court is unable to agree on the preferences in the tie-breaking vote, the State Supreme Court shall randomly generate the tie-breaking vote.

The eighth section explains how a second equivalent seat would be filled. This method is used to fill a district's second districtwide U.S. Representative seat, and it is used to fill the state's second U.S. Senate seat if both Senate seats are filled in the same election. The method is also used to identify the second-most-representative political party, the fourth-most-representative political party, and the other even-numbered-most-representative political parties.

Section 8. When there are two equivalent seats to be filled in the same election and all the candidates compete in the same race, the second seat shall be filled according to the following steps. First, identify the ballots on which the first-most popular choice is ranked as the voter's first choice. Second, using only the ballots that are not identified in the first step, and excluding preference information about the choices identified as the first-most popular choice, use the methods described in Sections 5, 6, and 7 to identify a new most-preferred choice. Third, again consider all the ballots. Fourth, identify the ballots on which the first-most preferred choice is preferred over the choice identified in the second step. Fifth, calculate a number equal to the number of ballots identified in the fourth step minus half the total number of ballots marked for the race. Sixth, calculate a reduced-influence scale number that is equal to the number calculated in the fifth step divided by the number of ballots identified in the fourth step, and retain all significant digits. Seventh, again consider all the ballots. Eighth, for each ballot identified in the fourth step use a partial vote equal to the reduced-influence scale number, and for each ballot not identified in the fourth step use one full vote. Ninth, based on the reduction of influence of some ballots as described in the eighth step, and using a corresponding adjustment in the total number of ballots, and excluding the first-most preferred choice from consideration, use the methods described in Sections 5, 6, and 7 to identify a new most-preferred choice. Finally, identify this new most-preferred choice as the second-most representative choice.
When identifying the representativeness of political parties, use the ranking method described in Section 6 to identify the third-most-representative, fifth-most-representative, and seventh-most-representative political parties from among the remaining political parties, and use the equivalent of the ranking method described in the previous paragraph of Section 7 to identify the fourth-most-representative, sixth-most-representative, and eighth-most-representative political parties from among the remaining political parties.[Note: This wording will be improved later.]

The ninth section explains how write-in candidate names would be handled, if they are allowed.

Section 9. If the name of a candidate for U.S. Representative is written on some ballots, the ballots on which the candidate's name does not appear shall be regarded as having that candidate assigned to the preference level below the lowest preference level of the listed candidates. The name of a write-in candidate shall be included in a VoteFair tally table only if that candidate name appears on enough ballots that the write-in candidate has a reasonable chance of winning a U.S. Representative seat.

© Copyright 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Richard Fobes, author of Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections and The Creative Problem Solver's Toolbox. Permission to publish this proposed law is hereby given if this full copyright notice remains attached.  Permission to use any portion of this wording in any legal document is hereby granted unconditionally.

 

 


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