Voices & Choices

Survey Finds Voters Eager for Major Electoral Reforms

Survey Finds Voters Eager for Major Electoral Reforms

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2018

Contact: Rich Robinson, rrobinson@fairvote.org or 301-270-4616

Ranked choice voting, independent redistricting commissions, and multi-member districts are favored by majorities of voters in deliberative poll

WASHINGTON – A new survey of voters reveals majority support for three key electoral reforms that would give voters a greater voice at the ballot box and more fair representation in government, while tempering the partisan rancor that dominates American politics.

It finds support for major changes to the way Americans elect members of Congress, including ranked-choice voting, multi-winner districts, and  citizen redistricting commissions, which are the three pillars of included within the Fair Representation Act (HR 3057).

The study was conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation. The results were released today at a briefing on Capitol Hill, which featured remarks by several members of Congress.

All three proposals were seen as at least tolerable by more than two-thirds of respondents, including super-majorities of Republicans and Democrats. Not surprisingly, given the outcry over partisan gerrymandering in recent months and two cases currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court, redrawing congressional district lines with nonpartisan citizen commissions is supported by the largest number of voters – 66 percent – including 53 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents.

Ranked choice voting, the election method that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, is favored by 55 percent of respondents, including 46 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents.

Multi-winner districts are  favored by 55 percent of respondents. This includes 44 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents. Such districts combined with ranked choice voting, would facilitate candidates getting elected by constituencies normally shut out in the current single-winner district configuration (i.e. more Republicans elected in states like California and Massachusetts, more Democrats elected in states like Oklahoma and Tennessee, and more women and people of color across the country).

“It’s encouraging to see that voters are ready to embrace these proposals even as many are still learning about them,” said FairVote Executive Director Rob Richie. “Americans want more fair representation, a stronger democracy, and a more responsive government that works together for the common good. These three proposals – all components of the Fair Representation Act – are essential for us to get there.”

The in-depth survey was conducted online and it provided respondents with a background briefing on the issues as well as strongly-worded arguments for and against each proposal. Before asking respondents for a final recommendation on the question, they were asked to assess each proposal as acceptable, tolerable and unacceptable.

Here, 70 percent of voters responded with a positive evaluation of ranked choice voting (52 percent acceptable, 18 percent tolerable and 29 percent unacceptable). Sixty-two percent of Republicans have a favorable view (44 percent acceptable, 18 percent tolerable and 37 percent unacceptable). For Democrats, 78 percent hold a favorable view (59 percent acceptable, 19 percent tolerable, 21 percent unacceptable), while 70 percent of independents have a favorable view (52 percent acceptable, 18 percent tolerable, 30 percent unacceptable).

A very strong majority of voters have a positive assessment of nonpartisan congressional redistricting by citizen commissions. Nationally, eight-in-ten (80 percent) find the proposal at least tolerable, with 62 percent calling it acceptable (18 percent tolerable, 19 percent unacceptable). Seventy percent of Republicans hold a positive view, including 53 percent who find the proposal acceptable (with 17 percent tolerable, 29 percent unacceptable). Eight-in-ten independents hold a favorable assessment, including 61 percent acceptable, 19 percent tolerable and 20 percent unacceptable.

Multi-member districts received an equally strong assessment nationally (50 percent acceptable, 21 percent tolerable, 27 percent unacceptable. More than six-in-ten Republicans (65 percent) view it positively (43 percent acceptable, 22 percent tolerable, 34 percent unacceptable). Seventy-eight percent of Democrats hold a favorable view (56 percent acceptable, 22 percent tolerable, 20 percent unacceptable). Nearly seven-in-ten independents (68 percent) have a favorable view of the proposal (48 percent acceptable, 20 percent tolerable, 28 percent unacceptable).

The survey was conducted online with a national probability-based sample of 2,482 registered voters, provided by Nielsen Scarborough. It was fielded Sept. 7 – Oct. 3, 2017. Margin of error is +/- 2.0 percent.

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