MAKING VOTES COUNT: JUDICIAL AND LEGISLATIVE REMEDIES FOR ENSURING PROPORTIONALITY IN CONGRESSIONAL AND STATE ELECTIONS
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe focus of this paper is identifying a partial remedy to exceptionally low rates of voter turnout in the U.S. The remedy requires rectifying a systematic problem at the heart of the U.S. Single Majoritarian District (SMD) system of elections: disproportionality between the share of votes of a particular party and the share seats that party has in government. This system is incompatible with the principal of voluntary proportionality, a principle which guarantees the equal power and effectiveness of all votes as outlined by the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court. After outlining the place of voluntary proportionality in the history of U.S. voting rights, I will specifically examine what structural remedies are available for helping the U.S. electoral system realize this principle. These remedies will include systematic changes that local, state and federal legislatures can quickly and effectively implement. I will also review a proposed judicial remedy to the structural problems of the U.S. SMD system, as well as reasons for and against this solution. I will argue that, with historical evidence from U.S. cities and states, an electoral system that adheres to voluntary proportionality can enjoy benefits like increased voter turnout, greater satisfaction in government and more competitive elections and greater responsiveness of elected officials to the wishes of their voters. Finally, I will argue that while a system guided by the principle of voluntary proportionality may not be feasibly implemented on a national level anytime soon, a more realistic approach may involve smaller changes at the state or municipal level.
Degree ProgramHonors College
Philosophy, Politics, Economics & Law