We’ve all either said it or heard it: “My vote doesn’t count.”
The bad news is, for a majority of voters, that’s not far from the truth — especially when it comes to congressional races like the midterms coming up this November. The good news is, there are solutions.
But before we get into the fixes, let’s talk about one of the most significant reasons your vote often doesn’t count: gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering, which is (seriously) named after an old guy named Gerry and a district he drew that looked like a salamander, refers to a far-too-common practice that allows politicians to draw their own districts — which means they almost never lose — instead of voters choosing the politicians we want.
Let’s say half the people in your state are likely to vote for Republicans and the other half for Democrats. In that case, about 50% of your representatives should be Republicans, and the other 50% should be Democrats, right?
But that almost never happens — why? It’s not an accident.
Politicians and party bosses do this on purpose, manipulating the map to their advantage. Republicans and Democrats both do it, and to the detriment of voters. They don’t care as long as they remain the only two options.
In Maryland, for example, where 35% of 2012 voters were Republican, the state produced one Republican representative and seven Democrats. How does a state that’s only 65% Democratic end up with 88% of their representatives being Democratic?
And it’s just as bad in Texas, where Hillary Clinton won 42% of the vote. The Lone Star State has more than twice as many Republican congressmen as Democrats. In a state where only eight points separated Trump and Clinton voters, Republicans have 25 seats (to the 11 held by Democrats). That’s not fair representation.
The answer is how districts are drawn — or, more accurately, the political Picassos who draw them.
With “creative” drawing tactics, it’s possible to turn a region that’s 60% blue and 40% red into one that’s 100% blue or 60% red.Do you see that? It’s the same precincts, representing the same people, but manipulated to produce radically different results.
This same process happens thousands of times over in American congressional and state districts. It’s how sitting politicians redraw their districts around you, without your input, and secure enough folks to nearly guarantee their re-election.
So despite our country’s 435 congressional districts, only around 16% of them are even considered competitive! That’s why so many congressmen become lifelong swamp creatures, collecting paychecks while accomplishing as little as possible.
And that’s also why, despite over 40% of American voters identifying with neither political party, we can count the number of independent representatives in Congress on one hand.
Let’s color inside the lines again.
Thankfully, there’s a way out. SAM is working to make sure that every vote counts. We’ve got a plan to take the crayons away from party bosses and instead deliver fair and adequate representation to voters.
That’s why we’re backing initiatives that would make drawing state and federal districts the responsibility of an independent commission.
This approach will:
- Prohibit gerrymandering
- Limit the roles of partisans and courts
- Create commissions that include even numbers of (R), (D), and (I) voters
- Demand open meetings, public records, and ethical rules
- Deliver fair and effective representation for all Coloradans
- Maximize competitive districts
If you agree that we need to put power back in the hands of the people, then you should become one of the many people joining up with us to fix our broken system.
Get on board here: http://joinsam.org/get-involved/