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Axelrod, Davenport among scholars urging Congress to reform political system

September 20, 2022

Over 200 political scientists, including the Ford School's Robert Axelrod and Christian Davenport, recently penned a letter to lawmakers urging them to end single-member congressional districts and adopt proportional representation.

"Congress has the ability to embrace this political richness by joining nearly every other advanced democracy in moving to more inclusive, multi-member districts made competitive and responsive by proportional representation," the scholars wrote. "The effects would be far-reaching and salutary. Proportional representation would render gerrymandering obsolete and help ensure that a political party’s share of votes in an election actually determines how many seats it holds in the House. Larger, multi-member districts would mean almost every voter could cast a meaningful vote, regardless of where they live. And as the Supreme Court further weakens the Voting Rights Act, proportional representation allows communities of color to have their voices reflected — and their candidates elected — at the ballot box."

According to The New York Times, Axelrod was joined by nine of his fellow Johan Skytte Prize winners.

"This redistricting cycle is a wake-up call for voters and our elected representatives," the authors conclude. "Our arcane, single-member districting process divides, polarizes, and isolates us from each other. It has effectively extinguished competitive elections for most Americans, and produced a deeply divided political system that is incapable of responding to changing demands and emerging challenges with necessary legitimacy."

Read the news items featuring Axelrod, Davenport, and their colleagues: