Research Reports

Lost Votes in Vermont State Senate Elections

Posted on September 10, 2012

The partisan makeup of the Vermont legislature is not in line with the partisan vote for state officers. Democrats are under-represented in both the House and Senate.An analysis of withheld votes in the State Senate races in 2000, 1998, and 1996 reveals that the primary cause of this disproportionality is the tendency of Democratic voters to bullet vote, giving up some of their votes, and possibly splitting their ticket, at a far higher rate than Republican voters.  We calculate that partial franchise bullet voting on average results in Vermont voters withholding over 14% of the votes they are entitled to cast in State Senate races. 

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Legal Analysis of Alternative Single Winner Election Methods

Posted on July 25, 2012

There are many alternatives to the plurality voting system currently employed in most elections in the United States.  Some of those alternative voting methods have the potential to elect a candidate with the most widespread support, as opposed to plurality voting which may elect a candidate whom the majority of the electorate voted against.  Given their potential for a positive impact on voter choice, it is important to analyze the legal and practical viability of those alternatives. 

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No More Gerrymanders: Missouri

Posted on March 21, 2012

Lawmakers in Missouri have recently passed a congressional redistricting plan that distorts the state’s political representation in favor of Republicans and institutionalizes a decade of uncompetitive, meaningless elections. To address the structural impediments of winner-take-all, FairVote has created an alternative— what we call fair voting — for Missouri’s congressional elections. Every voter in a fair voting system would experience a meaningful election and the great majority of voters would help elect a representative.

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Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act: A History and Analysis of Relevant Supreme Court Cases

Posted on September 23, 2011

 This report traces the history of the Voting Rights Act, from its origins in 1965 through its opposition and its continued renewal. Specifically, the report details how Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires those states covered under Section 5 to preclear all proposed voting changes, including redistricting efforts, with the Department of Justice before their enactment. The advent of the Voting Rights Act, specifically Section 5, has been instrumental in preventing states from making changes which could potentially discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities. Throughout the history of Section 5 cases before the Supreme Court, the Court has yet to rule Section 5 is invalid. 

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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

The number of swing states (generously defined as ones projected to be won by 9% or less in a year in which the major parties candidates split the national popular vote) has dropped sharply since 1988, especially among our nation's largest and smallest states. In 2008, only one of the 13 smallest states and only 4 of the 27 smallest states were swing states. This trend shows no indication of changing, with all trends pointing to wider division. 

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