Better Than Districts, True Representation

Welcome to Washington Citizens
for Proportional Representation

  • Our system of government is said to be a representative democracy. The purpose of elections is to transfer votes into representative positions. The test of a good election system is how well those who are elected mirror voter preferences. Our winner-take-all election system flunks that test big time.
  • When only one position is to be filled, like mayor or city attorney, it is natural that the candidate who receives the most votes wins. However a City Council is a multi-member body intended to represent a broader political spectrum. But because of the election system we use, it does not. By giving each voter one vote for each council position to be filled, the political faction strong enough to elect one position has the power to elect all the positions. That’s why Seattle’s City Council is comprised of only Democrats. Because approximately 65% of the city’s voters vote Democrat, no minority points of view have a statistical chance of being elected.
  • This flaw has been recognized by some who think geography is the most important element which needs representation on our City Council. Those people are currently suggesting that the City be cut into seven single member districts and two at large districts.

There IS a better way to elect the Seattle City Council,


Please encourage your friends to Vote NO on Charter Amendment #19
in the November 2013 General Election.

Seek fairer vote – NO on Amendment #19

This amendment would divide the City into seven districts and two at-large districts, each being represented by one City Council member.

Our current at-large City Council election system and the proposed District Hybrid system have some common faults. Both systems leave up to 49% of the voters with no chance to elect a representative. That’s because the so called “Representative” body is elected by the same simple majority of Seattle voters. Who should the City Council strive to represent? Ideally, the Council should mirror the political make-up of the entire community. This hypothetical city below shows one way to do it: (click image for full size)


In this example, 60% of the voters tend to be of one political persuasion and 2 other groups comprise about 20% of the voters. In order to represent the broadest possible political spectrum this 5 person city council would elect 3 majority members and each of the large minority groups would have the power to elect 1 representative. This is what is meant by Proportional Representation.

We don’t have the option to achieve this level of representation on the upcoming ballot but it would be much easier to achieve in the future if we started with our current At large election system. It’s also easy to see that dividing the city into smaller districts works against all scattered minority groups, unless your goal is to encourage political segregation by geography.

Let’s go forward, not backward. Districts are an 18th Century solution for a 21st Century problem.  Modern voting offers better representation in U.S. cities like Cambridge, MA; Minneapolis, MN, Peoria, IL, Amarillo TX and Hartford CT.  Such election systems should be examined and pursued now!

There ARE better ways to elect a more Representative City Council, but creating two classes of Council members and segregating the City into seven “pork hungry” fiefdoms is NOT the way to accomplish it! Creating a new election system which is worse than the one it replaces is not progress!

Districts pit the interests of one geographic area against the others rather than addressing the priorities of the entire City. The candidate who best serves your interest does not necessarily live in your neighborhood. If you like gerrymandering, Districts are for you! Those who draw the lines play a more important role in selecting the winner than the voters who cast the ballots!

Districting stifles diversity within neighborhoods encouraging the development of political machines like the infamous East Coast wards which we hear about. They protect incumbents at all costs thus making it harder for newcomers to be heard and elected.

Our current at-large system of electing nine equally powerful Council members provides a good framework for improvement. Adopting this misguided District hybrid proposal would set us back for another generation or two.

Seattle Voters have rejected districting proposals in 1975, 1995 and 2003. How many more times do we have to say NO?


For more information, please contact:

Washington Citizens for Proportional Representation

email: contact {a*t} wacpr {d0t} info

( replace {a*t} with @ {d0t} with . Remove spaces )

Tel. 206-285-2460


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