Legal Resources

Sample Platform Plank for
Proportional Representation

(this plank is a modified version of one adopted by the Green Party of California. We encourage organizations to change this to suit their own political perspective).


One of the primary goals of our party is to change our electoral system from "winner-take-all," to proportional representation (PR). PR is an over-all strategy for representation that encompasses several types of voting systems. It is used by most of the worlds established democracies, and has been used for important elections in the United States.

Our current winner-take-all systemwhere the highest vote-getter represents 100% of the electorate, even if they win only a majority or plurality of the votecauses many problems. Among them are lack of choice for voters; gross under-representation of women, and racial and political minorities; low voter turnout; issue-less campaigns; a two-party monopoly; corruption of politics by big money; and gerrymandering of legislative districts for incumbents protection.

PR addresses these issues: PR gives representation to voters from both minority and majority constituencies. Constituencies of like-minded voters win representation in multi-seat districts in proportion to their voting strength. A constituency or party that receives 10% of the vote wins 10% of the seats, 30% of the vote wins 30% of seats, and so on. This way, almost the entire electorate is represented in government, with the majority still ruling. PR increases voter participation. More people have the ability to elect a candidate who represents them. Turnouts average 70% to 95% in PR democracies, compared to the 44% turnout in the 1996 U.S. Congressional elections, and the 36% turnout in 1994.

PR increases diversity in representation. Compared to the U.S. Congress, which is 88% male, women in the national legislatures of PR democracies often have between 25% to 40% of the seats. Racial and other minorities are also better represented under PR. This helps legislatures more closely reflect a nation or state's diversity.

PR is an effective campaign finance reform. By reducing the percentage of votes needed to win, PR produces the amount of money needed to win. Minor parties like the Green Parties of Europe consistently win fair representation despite not spending as much as the major parties. PR also reduces the problem of gerrymanderingwhere incumbents and their parties get to draw district lines to their advantage. Almost all voters in a district receive representation under PR regardless of how the district lines are drawn.

PR uses multi-seat districts where representatives are elected in proportion to the votes they receive. In the implementation of PR systems, a threshold of votes is usually required to ensure that representatives have at least a minimum base of support.

There are forms of PR appropriate for all levels of elections:

List systems: Party based, they elect parties in proportion to their share of the popular vote. These are the most widely used systems around the world, and are appropriate for federal and state legislative bodies.

Mixed systems: Seats are awarded by a combination of "winner take all" single-seat districts and proportional representation. These do well in combining geographic and issue-based representation, and are also appropriate for federal and state legislative bodies.

Choice voting (also known as Preference voting and the Single Transferable Vote): Candidate-based, voters list their first, second, third, etc. choices for a particular race. Votes are transferred as candidates are eliminated, thus all votes help select the winner. Applicable to all levels of government. Choice voting was successfully used to elect city councils in two dozen U.S. cities, until the 1950s. This success led to its downfall. Political machines resented the loss of control of elections, and anti-reformers resisted diversity, especially African-Americans in government during a time of racial tension and desegregation of schools. Antiquated ballot machines also forced cities to count ballots by hand, which is unnecessary today because the count can be accomplished by computer.

Also deserving of our support: Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) -- IRV is an important reform for single-seat races such as mayor, governor, Congress and state legislatures. IRV allows voters to rank their choices first, second, third, etc., and operates like a series of runoff elections. If a voters first choice doesnt win, their vote transfers to their second choice, and so on. IRV allows voters to vote their conscience without "wasting" their vote on a candidate not likely to win, or being forced to choose between the "lesser of two evils." That means minor parties and minority candidates can aggressively contest elections and articulate their parties' message" without fear of being a "spoiler." Also it means that winners will have majority support, but without the added expense to candidates and election administrators of a second election.

Our party seeks the implementation of proportional representation election systems:

Seek, in coalition with organizations and individuals, the formation of commissionsat local, state and federal levelsto examine alternatives to the current electoral system, and present the findings to the public.