The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

Why we should change the way we vote

Structure of legislative elections causes problems despite potential remedies

Living in a current climate of polarization and extremism, we face what seems to be a fork in the road for the U.S. After the insurrection on Jan. 6th, 2021, the threat to which our democracy faces has become startlingly obvious. It is clear that the way in which our democracy functions, specifically our method of electing our leaders, is eroding away itself and heading towards democratic decay. The structure of our primaries, federal, and state legislative elections is fueling all this.

This deep division is manifesting into a political system in which it is essentially impossible for collaboration and cooperation- focusing on the benefit of one’s political party rather than the progression of the country. Self-destruction seems all too real.

Solutions to this problem are simple and numerous. While they differ in concept, they all allow diversity through varied political perspectives to be present.

The U.S. democracy is unlike those of other democratic countries throughout the world. Very few established democracies use a system like the U.S’s, where for most legislative elections, one person can represent numerous people after not necessarily winning the majority of votes in their state. Rather, other countries such as Germany, New Zealand, and Australia, to name a few, use proportional representation. 

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Proportional representation is an electoral system that allows for parties or candidates to gain seats in proportion to the number of votes they received. It makes for a variety of points of view within a legislature, and also increases the number of representatives for a particular district. 

Looking at our election process, perhaps we should use ranked choice voting. In this system involving more than two candidates, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If a candidate receives more than half of the first-choice votes, they win. Otherwise, immediately, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated and any voters who ranked them first have their vote moved to their second choice. This is repeated until a candidate has more than half of the votes and they win. 

With ranked choice voting, voters get more of a voice and they get more of a choice. The winner is the candidate that the largest number of people agreed upon. This eliminates a possibility familiar to our current system, of a single candidate receiving more votes than the other candidates, and thus winning, but still having the majority of the voters not vote for them.

Another solution would be to create multi-member House districts. In current single-member districts, districts are represented by one person. It is the same with state legislative districts. This fuels polarization and division. Under a multi-member district system, this would not be the case. 

In a multi-member district system, multiple representatives are chosen for each district. Chosen how? Through proportional representation, of course. This allows for multiple views to be represented, while also simultaneously eliminating gerrymandering due to the large size of multi-member districts. By allowing a larger House of Representative, not only would there be both Democrats and Republicans represented in each district, but different kinds of Democrats and Republicans represented, too.

Although these propositions provide insight into the progression of U.S. democracy, no structural resolution would completely rectify the issue of American democratic decay. With extreme division and  a competitive “sports team” like party mentality, the presence of controversy and disagreement is evident. 

Overall, the main obstacle present in systems of American democracy is the way we vote, which allows for polarization to manifest itself into political office. The process of selecting a singular candidate at the local and state legislative level supports the application of party loyalty, which may arguably promote interest in voting, but also allows for polarization to take control. 

Implementing a system of ranked choice voting and multi-member districts allows for more moderation and perspectives, which bring the U.S. further from polarization, and assists in the elimination of democratic regression. Although rewriting the system and altering voting methods does not erase the tension between liberals and conservatives, such changes of policy are essential steps forward towards the elimination of overly polarized U.S. politics. 

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About the Contributors
Shane Gomez
Shane Gomez, Co-Editor in Chief

Senior Shane Gomez is the Co-Editor in Chief of the A-Blast. He was Editorials Editor as a sophomore and junior and a Staff Writer as a freshman. He is pursuing the IB Diploma and he can be found frequenting clubs and organizations such as AWC, AYSO, ABC, AA, CFAC, HSC, SHF, MUN, NHS, NEHS, NSSHS, SNHS, VWA, and YMG. He likes to thrift, hangout, and watch movies. He looks forward to graduating.

Christina Abouzeki
Christina Abouzeki, Co-International Editor
Senior Christina Abouzeki is in her second year of journalism as a Co-International Editor. She loves reading, listening to music, and traveling. She plays on the varsity volleyball team and the violin in the philharmonic orchestra. Outside of school, she also likes to spend time with her friends and family.

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