Research Reports

Legality of the Use of Ranked Choice Absentee Ballots for Military and Overseas Voters

Posted on July 07, 2011

Ranked choice absentee ballots provide a legal and practical solution to the disenfranchisement of military and overseas voters in runoff elections. These ballots enable U.S. citizens covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 (UOCAVA) to cast votes when the ballot turnaround time between first and second elections is short.

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Not Your Parents' Presidential Elections: The Decline of Swing States, 1960-2008

Posted on June 09, 2011

Summary: American presidential elections have undergone a dramatic change in recent decades.The number of swing states (which are states defined as projected to be won by less than 10% in elections in which the major parties candidates split the national popular vote) has dropped sharply, especially since 1988 and especially among our nation's largest and smallest states.

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Redistricting Reform in the States: A 50-State Analysis

Posted on June 01, 2011

Redistricting Reform in the States: A 50-State AnalysisWith the completion of the 2010 Census, state legislatures are now in the process of the decennial redrawing of congressional, state, and local electoral districts. The process of creating new boundary lines is highly partisan and often comes at the expense of voters. By gerrymandering districts, legislators and their political allies use redistricting to choose their voters instead of giving voters the opportunity to choose them.

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Redistricting Reform in the States: June 2010

Posted on February 03, 2011

Redistricting Reform in the States: June 2010

This review of redistricting reform in the states in 2009-2010 presents a mix of optimism and frustration for supporters of redistricting in the public interest. Of the many proposals addressed by the fifty state legislatures in 2009-2010, very few passed. Most of the proposals have died or are stuck in committee. Given the fact that the laws in many states prohibit redistricting more than once a decade, few states are likely to engage in redistricting with any new, less partisan procedures before 2021 at the earliest.

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Understanding the RCV Election Results in District 10

Posted on November 23, 2010

Understanding the RCV election results in District 10

A FairVote Analysis

The Board of Supervisors race in District 10 was an unprecedented race in San Francisco’s seven-year history of using ranked choice voting (the first RCV elections took place in 2004). It featured 21 candidates, no incumbent and no obvious front runners.  That resulted in an election in which the winning candidate, Malia Cohen, barely edged out the competition in an exceptionally close race. How close was it?

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Spotlighting a Best Practice

Posted on August 11, 2010

FairVote Summer intern Rebecca Guterman interviewed Tim Hwang, Student Member of the Board of Education in Montgomery County, MD, to highlight a practice that helps both the student representative and the rest of the student population gain experience in voting and representative government.

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California's Proposition 14: Weaknesses and Remedies

Posted on August 05, 2010

On June 8, 2010, the voters of California approved Proposition 14, “The Top Two Primaries Act,” (“the Act”) with 53.7% of the vote. In its own words, the Act’s intention is “to protect and preserve the right of every Californian to vote for the candidate of his or her choice.”  All general elections will be won with a majority of the vote, and voters in the primary are generally free to vote for their true first choice with little fear that doing so will help elect their least favored candidate. Many of its backers argued that by giving independent voters more influence in determining which candidates advance to the general election, the Act would result in more moderate politicians and less gridlock in the legislature.

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Redistricting Reform in the States: June 2010

Posted on June 23, 2010

This review of redistricting reform in the states in 2009-2010 presents a mix of optimism and frustration for supporters of redistricting in the public interest. Of the many proposals addressed by the fifty state legislatures in 2009-2010, very few passed. Most of the proposals have died or are stuck in committee. Given the fact that the laws in many states prohibit redistricting more than once a decade, few states are likely to engage in redistricting with any new, less partisan procedures before 2021 at the earliest.

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Majority and Plurality in U.S. Gubernatorial Elections

Posted on April 09, 2010

From 1948 to 2009, 90.4 percent of all gubernatorial general elections nationwide were won with greater than 50 percent of the popular vote. None were won with less than 35 percent of all votes cast. Fifteen states elected all of their governors with a majority of votes cast. Among the other states, Maine had the most plurality-elected governors, with 7 of their 19 races in this span.

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