Righting a skewed electoral system
Charles Fried’s op-ed on partisan gerrymandering (“Gerrymandering is unfair and unjust,” Opinion, July 10) misses the most important point about political districts: Most Americans have sorted themselves into such politically homogeneous neighborhoods that, even with more neutral legislative boundaries, you are not going to reverse a trend in which Democrats have won every one of the last 108 House races in Massachusetts and Republicans chalk up similar victories in states like Arkansas. A bill proposed by Representative Don Beyer (D-Va.), the Fair Representation Act, addresses the problem of congressional polarization by establishing voting districts that would use ranked-choice voting to elect up to five congressional representatives. Voters would rank the candidates for a given seat in order of preference and their votes would transfer to their second choice if their first choice is in last place and loses. The math is complicated to explain but easily performed by computers. The beauty of this proposal is that it promotes proportional representation of minorities — Democrats in predominantly Republican areas and vice versa. Women would also be better represented, as would blacks, Latinos, and others. There are precedents in many cities, as well as the state of Maine, which recently endorsed ranked-choice voting in congressional elections.
The editorial about Massachusetts’ voter registration (“Voter registration deadline hopelessly outdated”) and the op-ed about gerrymandering (“Gerrymandering is unfair and unjust”), in the July 10 Globe, both expose flaws in our electoral system that subvert the will of the people and ought to be corrected. However, as long as our political leaders depend on campaign contributions from mega-
donors who expect something in return, our government will continue to serve corporations and billionaires rather than the general public.
Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission have opened the floodgates to the corrupting influence of big money in politics. Until we legalize campaign finance reform by amending the Constitution to establish once and for all that corporations are not people and money is not speech, we will continue to live in a country dominated by self-serving special interests.