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History of Use

Despite widespread dissatisfaction with our political process, most policymakers tinker only at the edges of our electoral systems and have not seriously revisited their basic design and structure in decades. However, there is a forgotten history of full representation experimentation and success. John Adams, one of our founding fathers stated that our government “should be in miniature an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason, and act like them…. Great care should be taken to effect this, and to prevent unfair, partial, and corrupt elections.” Throughout our nation’s history, many communities did just that, by implementing full representation voting systems that would bring our elected bodies closer to Adams’ ideal of a reflection of the population. For a century Illinois elected its state legislature through cumulative voting, while dozens of U.S. cities adopted choice voting to promote fairer representation and better, more accountable government. Largely adopted before the Cold War, choice voting performed as promised, leading to fair racial representation, political diversity, and more thoughtful and innovative leaders. But choice voting's supporters faced the relentless hostility of party bosses, who manipulated concerns about ballot counting and fears of minorities to gain repeals in most cities. We are left with largely unfair, unrepresentative elections. Given increasingly lopsided elections and stagnant representation of women and communities of color, the time has come to overhaul our flawed electoral systems and seek empowerment through full representation.