Voices & Choices

RCV in Action: Eastpointe’s City Council Election

RCV in Action: Eastpointe’s City Council Election

Eastpointe, Michigan held its city council election this November using ranked choice voting (RCV). The election occurred because the council seat’s previous holder, Monique Owens, resigned to become mayor last year.

The city adopted RCV in 2019 to settle a suit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Department said that the city’s at-large, winner-take-all elections diluted the voting power of its African-American population, allowing the white majority to elect their candidates of choice to the council nearly every time.

The form of multi-winner RCV implemented in Eastpointe city council races ensures that political groups in the community are represented on a proportional basis on the council. Since adopting RCV, Eastpointe has seen a higher number of African-American candidates winning office.

Even in single-winner races like this year’s special council election, research has shown that RCV encourages women and candidates of color to run for office and get elected more often. In this election, all three candidates were African-American and two were women.


Graph showing RCV results from the Macomb County elections website

Sylvia Moore led in the first round with 5,177, and she expanded her lead to a majority with 7,525 votes in the second round. Moore’s platform called for promoting business development and lowering home property taxes to make home ownership easier.

Eastpointe isn’t the only city that recognizes the ability of ranked choice voting and proportional representation to better represent the views of its people. Cambridge, Massachusetts has used multi-winner RCV for decades, and Albany, California just passed a referendum this year to adopt it. Abroad, it is used in numerous city governments and national legislatures like Australia’s Senate.

 

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