Fair Representation Voting Methods

Preferred Fair Representation Voting Method: Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked Choice Voting

FairVote has identified ranked choice voting as our preferred fair representation voting method. RCV offers the following benefits. 

RCV is the method used in the Fair Representation Act for the U.S. House of Representatives. We also advocate for RCV in other multi-winner contests, like city councils elected at large and state legislatures elected in multi-winner districts.

How are votes counted with multi-winner RCV? Find out here

 

Other Fair Representation Voting Methods

We continue to work on variety of fair voting reforms outside of ranked choice voting, such as the open ticket method, cumulative voting, and Districts Plus.

The methods discussed here are more susceptible to gaming or tactical voting than ranked choice voting is, and are less effective than RCV at promoting minority representation and improving voter choice. While each of these methods provides greater proportional representation to voters in the cities, states, or countries where they are used, we recommend them only as steps toward the use of ranked choice voting.

Open Ticket Voting

The open ticket method, or "unordered open list system" combines the benefits of proportional representation with simplicity for voters and administrators. Voters cast a single vote for a single candidate in a partisan election. Candidates are elected if they pass the same threshold used in ranked choice voting. Additionally, remaining seats are filled by looking at what proportion of voters voted for candidates of the same political party. For example, in a three-seat district in which a majority of voters favored candidates running as Republicans, two seats would be awarded to Republican candidates.

To learn more about the open ticket method, see FairVote's innovation page for open ticket voting.

Cumulative Voting

Cumulative voting is a variant of bloc voting in which voters may cast a number of votes equal to the number of candidates to be elected, but they may cast them freely; for example by casting all of their votes for one candidate, or splitting them evenly between two. 

Illinois elected its State House of Representatives from three-seat districts with cumulative voting from 1870 to 1980, with a number of important benefits. Voters have cumulative voting rights in at-large elections in several jurisdictions in Alabama, New York, South Dakota, and Texas. Additionally, cumulative voting rights are often extended to shareholders in corporate elections to prevent a single majority shareholder from controlling the entire board of elections.

Single-Vote Method & "Limited Voting"

The simplest fair representation voting method is a variant of "limited voting" (so-called because voters have fewer votes than the number of seats to be elected) called the single vote method. Each voter has one potent vote, and the candidates who receive the most votes are elected.

When electing at-large, counties in Connecticut and Pennsylvania are required by state law to use limited voting with limited nominations, meaning that political parties must nominate fewer candidates than the number of seats to be filled. Local jurisdictions in Alabama and North Carolina have adopted the single vote or other variants on limited voting in response to lawsuits brought under the Voting Rights Act.

Districts Plus

Districts Plus is FairVote's improvement upon single-winner districts: a mix of Mixed-Member Proportional systems used in countries such as Germany and New Zealand with American-style, candidate-based elections.

For those who like local, geographic-based representation, Districts Plus is a particularly attractive fair representation voting system. It makes every vote in every district meaningful in every election, and ensures that the party that receives the most votes wins the most seats.

Districts Plus preserves the current system in which most representatives are elected from single-member districts. It also adds "accountability seats" to the legislature to guarantee that when one party's candidates gets the most votes, that party will win the most seats. As a result, every contest in every district is meaningful in every election. Parties will have an incentive to field strong candidates in every district, no matter how imbalanced that district may be.

To learn more about Districts Plus, see FairVote's innovation page for Districts Plus.

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