It’s 2018. We can do better than picking names out of a bowl.
Thursday, in the state of Virginia, majority control of the House of Delegates went to Republicans, after a piece of paper with the name of a Republican candidate in a tied election was randomly selected from a bowl.
If this sounds like an absurd way to decide control of a state legislature, it’s because it is.
It’s also a clarifying example of the absurdities of the American winner-take-all two-party electoral system, rooted in the single-member, plurality-winner district.
In particular, the Virginia House of Delegates election clarifies three particular flaws: 1) the randomness of electoral outcomes, 2) the arbitrary consequences of this randomness, and 3) the potential for widespread gerrymandering.
But before we get to the flaws, let’s take a quick recap of what happened.
Back in November, Virginia held statewide elections. Virginians elected Democrat Ralph Northam as governor by a sizable majority, 54 percent to 45 percent. They also voted in 100 elections for the House of Delegates, each held in a separate district.
In one of those districts, the 94th District, the vote was really, really close — close enough to trigger a recount. After the recount, Democrat Shelly Simonds was up by one vote over incumbent Republican David Yancey. This was big news, because it meant that Democrats and Republicans would each win 50 seats in the state House.
But then Yancey’s team successfully got one extra ballot counted in his favor. This tied the race at 11,608 to 11,608. Apparently, this left picking names out of a bowl as the only way left to decide which party would get full control of the state legislature. Yancey’s name came out of the bowl. Now Republicans have a 51-49 seat majority in the state House of Delegates. And Read More Here