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American review

Jared Sparks Edward Everett, James Russell ...

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1871.] Forms of Minority Representation.

3 of all such laws. In the several systems proposed as substitutes for the existing methods, the obliteration of district lines, or a vast enlargement of the boundaries of districts, and the abandonment of local representation, constitute a prime condition for their success.

The alleged failure of the district system, and the apparent unfairness to minorities which it involves, have led thinkers in this country, and to a still greater extent in Europe, to cast about for a new plan which shall both do greater justice to the several factions in a constituency and secure a higher order of talents in the representatives. The soundness of the objections to the present system, and the reasonableness of the cry against the tyranny of majorities, have been already discussed.* We therefore propose now simply to examine, in the light of experience, the several substitutes put forward, so confidently by their supporters, in order to ascertain whether any one of them has advantages so great that we can afford to adopt it into our political system.

The problem to be solved in creating a new system to secure due representation to two or more parties or classes of opinion is a difficult one. Such a system should not be much less simple and easy of comprehension than that which it supplants. It must abolish all district lines or make the districts so large as to give a greatly increased range of selection. It must be flexible enough to adapt itself to large and small districts alike. Political managers must be deprived of power to defeat its purpose, as they have succeeded in doing with the district system. It must not, under the guise of minority representation, . introduce minority government.

The several plans proposed may be classed under three general heads: (1.) The limited vote; (2.) The cumulative vote; and (3.) The single vote. To the first class belong all plans which allow the elector to vote for a fixed number of persons less than the whole number to be chosen ; to the second, all plans which give him a certain number of votes to distribute as he pleases; to the third, all plans which allow each vote to count for only one several persons on the ballot, although

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