Voices & Choices

Ranked choice voting in US goes back more than a hundred years

Ranked choice voting in US goes back more than a hundred years

Maine’s use of ranked choice voting last month for its party primaries was rightfully reported as an historic moment in American democracy, but it’s not the first time ranked ballots have been used statewide in an American election. Use of ranked ballots in America actually dates back to the early 20th Century, at the height of the Progressive Era.

Two forms of single-winner ranked choice voting were used in 11 states for party primaries between the 1910s and the 1930s, and multi-winner ranked choice voting was used in another two-dozen cities between the 1910s and the 1950s. The Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center has great resources on these historic uses of ranked choice voting.

You can watch a 50 minute webinar with Jack Santucci and me, to dive deep in to the historic uses of single- and multi-winner RCV and learn more about the political fights for multi-winner RCV, or if you’re pressed for time, listen to our 15 minute podcast episode on the same subject (available on iTunes, Stitcher, and anywhere else you get podcasts).

Learn more about Jack’s research in to this history on his website.

With Independence Day just around the corner, there's no better time to learn more about America’s rich history of democratic experimentation.

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