Recent events in Texas, where Democratic legislators have left the state to block a redistricting plan that would lose them 5-7 seats, have highlighted another problem with American election systems. An innate characteristic of “first past the post” voting, as compared to any proportional-representation system, is that a party whose support is split across districts cannot get any candidates elected at all. This makes the system very sensitive to how district boundaries are drawn, leading inevitably to high-stakes battles like we’re seeing in Texas. With proportional representation, it wouldn’t be possible to swindle a party out of more than half a seat by redistricting; every party would be fairly represented no matter how the lines were drawn. The result would be less time spent trying to manipulate the system, and more time spent doing the actual work of legislating.

This is also a situation where approval voting or instant-runoff voting don’t help at all. Those are useful approaches for single-seat elections but, as I said before, multi-seat elections are often more interesting and/or important.