Impact of RCV in Cambridge

Representation of People of Color

The use of choice voting in Cambridge, MA has enabled racial minorities to better succeed in local elections by lowering the threshold for election. Since 1980, when the African-American population crossed 10% of the town's total population, members of the African-American community have been consistently elected to the city council and school committee. Also as a result of ranked choice voting and its promotion of coalition-building, although only 10% of the population, in recent years African-Americans have been able to hold more than one seat on each board at time.

Women's Representation

The implementation of ranked choice voting has allowed women to achieve much greater representation in Cambridge than in other methods of election. Between 1997 and 2001, the City Council and School Committee had female representation between 1/3 and 2/3 of each body.

Representation of women in 4 Massachusetts City Councils in 2008
% women in City Council

Cambridge 33% 
Somerville 18%
Medford 29%
Worcester 27%

Voter Satisfaction

Research has shown that ranked choice voting promotes voter satisfaction. Data from Cambridge elections between 1991 and 2009, shows that on over 90% of Cambridge voters elected their 1st or 2nd choice candidates.

Voter Turnout

In national elections, countries employing proportional voting methods have significantly higher voter turnout than countries with winner-take-all election systems. This has led political scientists like Seymour Martin Lipset and Walter Dean Burnham to the conclusion that proportional voting systems encourage greater voter participation. In this blog, George Pillsbury argues that turnout is higher in Cambridge because of voters' increased degree of choice and improved ability to elect candidates of choice.

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