Reports

International Snapshot: Japan 2009

Posted on November 24, 2009

The Japanese parliamentary elections in August 30, 2009 marked a turning point in Japan’s political history. Since 1955, Japan has been dominated by one party, with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as the governing party for all but 11 months. But in these elections the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) defeated the LDP, winning 308 seats to 109 for the LDP in the 480-seat House of Representatives.

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A Survey and Analysis of Statewide Election Recounts, 1980-2006

Posted on August 13, 2009

This report examines statewide election recount outcomes and practices in the United States, using data from the decade of elections taking place in the years 2000 to 2009. Our findings provide a basis for observations on when recounts are necessary, provisions for model state laws on recounts and forecasts of recount scenarios in elections governed by a national popular vote.

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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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International Snapshot: Poland

Posted on July 31, 2006

Poland held elections to its parliament in September 2005. Its lower house, the Sejm, is elected proportionally from closed lists. The Senate is elected in two- or three-member winner-take-all districts. While this feature of Senate elections should discourage small parties from running candidates, more and more parties contest elections with each passing cycle. Despite a relatively high threshold of 5% to enter the Sejm, small, ideologically similar parties proliferate, and coalition-building remains a challenge. This paper looks the intersections of Poland’s electoral system and party behavior, coalition-bulding, and turnout. It also considers the potential implications of a change to the formula used to allocate Sejm seats.

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Majority Rule in International Presidential Elections

Posted on June 05, 2006

Of the 28 freest presidential democracies, 21 require the president to win with a majority of votes. Two more mandate presidents be elected with relatively high minimum pluralities. Only five allow pure plurality winners. One of them, the United States, permits the winner of the popular vote to lose the election through an Electoral College system. The 23 countries with majority and minimum plurality requirements all employ runoff elections. 22 use delayed runoff elections and one, Ireland, builds both rounds into one with instant runoff voting (IRV).Each method has implications for voter choice, quality of campaigning and respect for majority rule. This report examines each system and its implications by way of description and case studies.

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International Snapshot: Israel 2006

Posted on April 04, 2006

Israel held elections to its parliament, the Knesset, on March 28, 2006. Frequently held up as an example of why not to adopt proportional voting, Israel's election system, critics argue, tends to produce unstable, unworkable governing coalitions. But this tendency has less to do with proportional voting than the form Israel has chosen to use, in tandem with its wider political environment. This report focuses on the effects of Israel's low electoral threshold and closed party list system.

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International Snapshot: Ukraine

Posted on April 03, 2006

Ukraine held elections to its parliament in March 2006. It was that country's first use of a fully proportional electoral system. The 1998 and 2002 elections used a parallel system in which half of seats were elected in single-member plurality districts. This paper analyzes the proportionality of results in historical perspective as well as turnout and number of effective votes. Institutional challenges and potential remedies are described. Choices about electoral institutions have important consequences for political outcomes in a representative democracy.

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