Voices & Choices

Plurality Voting Is Not the Answer

Plurality Voting Is Not the Answer

When proposing a new voting system, it’s logical to ask why we, as a country, need to change our ways. Here at FairVote, we talk a lot about why plurality voting is not the best voting system to elect representative bodies and how ranked choice voting is the solution to this problem. Time and again, data continues to support this argument. In fact, a recent paper written by Jeffrey T. Barton, a professor of Mathematics at Birmingham-Southern College, proves that compared to proportional forms of voting, plurality elections are by nature unfair to minority parties. This means that plurality voting rewards the majority, or largest party while penalizing the more minor party. He even argues that, “The observed lack of proportionality in such elections is not simply an artifact of the difficulties caused by political geography, map-drawing, or of intentional gerrymandering.” (Barton, 2022). Overall,  the paper finds that if the goal of an election is to create proportionality, plurality elections are not suited to accomplish this. 

This paper further demonstrates what we already know. Plurality elections are not suitable for creating a truly representative democracy. Runoff elections that have been created to solve some of the issues with representation in our single-winner plurality system are expensive and result in declines in turnout. Our current electoral system also incentivizes candidates to campaign “against” one another, only deepening the political polarization in the United States today. This is why we believe ranked choice voting is a solution to the issues we are seeing in our electoral system. In places where ranked choice voting is used, there are higher turnout rates and more diverse outcomes. Proportional ranked choice voting ensures that more BIPOC candidates are elected, and rural Democrats, as well as urban Republicans, have a fair chance of being elected. At FairVote, we believe that every voter should feel confident in their vote, and ranked choice voting helps create this environment. 

 

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