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Letter: A new way to decide who represents us in Congress

ElectionsBarbara Lee

In her letter in your Oct. 25 edition, reader Dana Schwartz is "repulsed" by the gerrymandering going on now in Maryland. Well, get in line — I am repulsed, too, even though I've stood by amusedly for political antics on every level over the years. I remember when Maryland had, technically, five governors in 24 hours back in 1987 — Lee to Mandel to Lee to Mandel to Hughes. We all know that politicians everywhere and in every time are looking out for their own interests, but generally they put lipstick on the pig, and God bless 'em for it.

But establishing a new bi-partisan commission to draw yet more maps is putting a band-aid on something a lot more odious than a pig. It may now be possible, with fancy modern technological tools, to devise districts that are almost exactly equal in population, but that does nothing to blunt the drive of an entrenched majority to protect its fiefdom, nor to produce, except accidentally, representatives that sort of represent the voters in a geographic area — and it would have to be re-done every 10 years in any case. So I say we should ditch the entire process.

Each state is empowered under the Constitution to decide how it will send representatives to Congress, unless I have been misinformed. Let Maryland be the first to adopt proportional voting, in which all candidates for Congressional seats run at-large, and each voter may cast as many votes as there are seats. There is much additional technical detail about that scheme, but here is an example of the basic mechanism. If I think Mr. White (I) and Ms. Pinkman (D) would make spiffing congresspersons, I can apportion my eight votes between them. If I think Mrs. Ermentraut (R) will get us all killed, I can withhold all my votes from her. If I want to play identity politics and I favor the Slovak-Inuit emigre community, then I and others like me can mobilize and cast all our votes for the Slovak-Inuit candidates.

With proportional voting in use, the obscene maps are gone, no primaries are necessary, safe seats are safe no longer and minority representation is assured to the extent that each group's members are willing to work for it.

Elden Carnahan

City of Laurel

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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