Towards Proportional Representation for the U.S. House: Amending the Uniform Congressional District Act

  • Description

Each American lives in a congressional district in which every two years they may vote for a single official to alone represent their district in the U.S. House of Representatives. This reality is so familiar to most that it perhaps appears self-evident: how else would elections work? Globally, though, this is unusual among democracies; and it has not been the norm for much of American history.

While U.S. House elections use single-member districts, more common among democracies is some form of proportional multi-member districts. The two models give rise to two distinct electoral systems: the former, a winner-take-all system in which a single candidate, with a plurality or majority of the vote, represents the entire district ("takes all"); and the latter, a system of proportional representation in which multiple winners secure legislative seats in rough proportion to the votes they receive.

This report examines a statute enacted by Congress in 1967 — the Uniform Congressional District Act (UCDA), which mandates the use of single-member districts for House elections — and options for reform.