Richard Painter and Lawrence Lessig Co-author Op-ed in USA Today

Let’s fix Electoral College. It’ll be easy compared to gerrymandering: Lessig & Painter

by Lawrence Lessig & Richard Painter, originally posted on USAToday.com

In each state, in a clear denial of proportionality, millions of votes for president don’t count. This concept needs urgent legal recognition.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer had just described a system in which “if party A wins a majority of votes, party A controls the legislature. That seems fair,” he said. Chief Justice John Roberts then jumped in: “If you need a convenient label for that approach,” Roberts offered, “you can call it ‘proportional representation,’ which has never been accepted as a political principle in the history of this country.”

Most Americans would agree with Breyer that in a democracy, it is only “fair” that the party that gets more votes gets more seats. But Roberts was making a narrower point: His claim could not have been — because it would have been absurd — that in our tradition of representative democracy, the winner shouldn’t win. He meant instead that the court has never held that party proportionality was an overriding value in structuring legislative districts. Other values, like a connection to the community or districts that are compact or equal in size, are also important — and sometimes outweigh a simple interest in proportionality.

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