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New Affinity Group on Proportional Representation

Published on 3/10/2023
Our state league was the first to publish a study and position on election methods

This work, along with the work of 14 other states, culminated in the update of the national LWV position (see note below) in 2020.  League positions provide guidance, flexibility, and opportunity for action. We are forming an informal affinity group that will explore the reasons for changing to a voting method that results in proportional representation. As we experienced during this year’s consensus process, understanding comes through small group discussion.  

Each month we will hear from Leagues, advocates, and election administrators throughout the U.S. to examine the pros and cons of our current voting method and the outcomes after a change in voting method. We will also review terminology—what is gerrymandering?  What is a multi-member district?  What is proportional representation?

Why is this important?

Our WA state study in 2000 stated:  

“John Adams contended that a legislative body “should be an exact portrait, in miniature, of the people at large, as it should think, feel, reason and act like them.” However, the most common voting system in the United States, the Single Member Plurality system, is not designed to reflect all views within a given district, nor is it a methodology capable of assuring Adams’ larger vision of representation within the legislative body as a whole. . . . A number of indicators suggest that something is amiss with the public’s perception of elections in the United States. The country has one of the lowest rates of voter participation in the democratic world, one of the highest election costs per vote, complaints about lack of choice among candidates and parties and distortion between votes cast and seats gained. Its election system draws legislative boundaries that tend to reinforce a two party monopoly. A disproportionately low percentage of women, minorities and ethnic groups are elected to office (although this is much less true in Washington State than in many other states).”

And this year on Feb 23 the LWV North Dakota said this in an editorial opposing their state’s proposed legislation to ban alternative voting methods:

“Voters are frustrated with our current political climate—how polarized we’ve become, the limited viable options in our current voting system, the negative campaigning, and the lack of diverse representation. At a time when voters across the political spectrum may be feeling that our democratic institutions are not working well, we should support any opportunity to make our elections more efficient, inclusive, and representative.”  

Our next meeting is Thursday, April 13th from 5-6:30pm. Please reach out to Kit Muehlman at for more information.

Note: The League's Position

Statement of Position on Voter Representation/Electoral Systems as adopted by concurrence by the 54th National Convention in June 2020:

LWVUS promotes an open governmental system that is representative, accountable, and responsive. We encourage electoral methods that provide the broadest voter representation possible and are expressive of voter choices.

The LWVUS believes in representative government. The League supports electoral systems that elect policymaking bodies–-legislatures, councils, commissions, and boards—that proportionally reflect the people they represent. We support systems that inhibit political manipulation (e.g., gerrymandering). 

See the full guide here