Virginia clarifies the case against winner-take-all democracy

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Media Outlet: Vox

On Vox, Lee Drutman wrote about the problems in our electoral system that the Virginia decision highlights.

Thursday, in the state of Virginia, majority control of the House of Delegates went to Republicans, after a piece of paper with the name of a Republican candidate in a tied election was randomly selected from a bowl.
If this sounds like an absurd way to decide control of a state legislature, it’s because it is.
It’s also a clarifying example of the absurdities of the American winner-take-all two-party electoral system, rooted in the single-member, plurality-winner district.
In particular, the Virginia House of Delegates election clarifies three particular flaws: 1) the randomness of electoral outcomes, 2) the arbitrary consequences of this randomness, and 3) the potential for widespread gerrymandering.


Lee Drutman is a senior fellow in the program on political reform at New America. He is the author of The Business of America is Lobbying (Oxford University Press, 2015).