Research Reports

Delegating Democracy

Posted on August 11, 2009

Our presidential nominating system is in need of a major overhaul. Incremental changes, like instituting instant runoff voting or expanding suffrage rights for young people would be a positive start, but more sweeping reform is required to transform the process into what we can truly call "democracy." The calendar needs a facelift, the superdelegates need some directions and the people need to have a greater voice in deciding their parties' nominee for President.

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Universal Voter Registration: An International Perspective

Posted on June 28, 2009

The United States is one of the few democracies in the world where the government does not take any responsibility in registering its citizens. This one-of-a-kind, self-initiated voter registration process acts as a major barrier to voter turnout and leads to often inaccurate voter rolls.

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Fuzzy Math: Wrong Way Reforms for Allocating Electoral College Votes

Posted on June 28, 2009

This updated analysis (first published in 2007) analyzes two of the three major options available to state leaders interested in reforming how a state allocates its Electoral College votes: the whole number proportional system and congressional district system. It evaluates them on the basis of whether they promote majority rule, make elections more nationally competitive, reduce incentives for partisan machinations and make all votes count equally. Our analysis reveals that both of these methods fail to meet our criteria and fall far short of the National Popular Vote plan, which is the third major option available to reformers.

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2008's Shrinking Battleground and Its Stark Impact on Campaign Activity

Posted on December 03, 2008

Both major party candidates in the 2008 presidential election made an ambitious promise upon effectively securing their party’s nominations —to wage nationwide campaigns and reach out to as many voters in as many states as possible. But the candidate's good intentions were undercut by the political reality created by the current Electoral College system and states’ use of the winner-take-all rule. Under that winner-take-all rule, candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize or pay attention to the concerns of states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind.

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International Snapshot: Scotland 2007

Posted on July 10, 2007

On May 3, 2007, Scottish voters used two proportional voting systems simultaneously: for the first time ever, choice voting (or the single transferable vote) for local councils, and once again, mixed member proportional voting for the Scottish Parliament. The local council elections saw increased participation and broadly representative results. Despite the first-time use of choice voting alongside a completely different voting system, error rates were, on average, remarkably low. The MMP elections ensured proportionality in seat shares and arguably prevented a wrong-winner result. There was early controversy over error rates allegedly around 10%, but actual error rates were lower. Later research moreover confirmed that voter error was due to critical ballot design flaws.

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The Feasibility of Instant Runoff Voting in Vermont

Posted on March 08, 2007

FairVote commissioned a complementary report by Caleb Kleppner, one of the nation's foremost experts on the use and administration of ranked choice elections. This report lays out a full range of implementation options for Vermont and includes topics such as voting equipment, counting procedures and voter education programs.

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