On May 3, 2007, Scottish voters used two proportional voting systems simultaneously: for the first time ever, choice voting (or the single transferable vote) for local councils, and once again, mixed member proportional voting for the Scottish Parliament. The local council elections saw increased participation and broadly representative results. Despite the first-time use of choice voting alongside a completely different voting system, error rates were, on average, remarkably low. The MMP elections ensured proportionality in seat shares and arguably prevented a wrong-winner result. There was early controversy over error rates allegedly around 10%, but actual error rates were lower. Later research moreover confirmed that voter error was due to critical ballot design flaws.
FairVote commissioned a complementary report by Caleb Kleppner, one of the nation's foremost experts on the use and administration of ranked choice elections. This report lays out a full range of implementation options for Vermont and includes topics such as voting equipment, counting procedures and voter education programs.
Poland held elections to its parliament in September 2005. Its lower house, the Sejm, is elected proportionally from closed lists. The Senate is elected in two- or three-member winner-take-all districts. While this feature of Senate elections should discourage small parties from running candidates, more and more parties contest elections with each passing cycle. Despite a relatively high threshold of 5% to enter the Sejm, small, ideologically similar parties proliferate, and coalition-building remains a challenge. This paper looks the intersections of Poland’s electoral system and party behavior, coalition-bulding, and turnout. It also considers the potential implications of a change to the formula used to allocate Sejm seats.
Of the 28 freest presidential democracies, 21 require the president to win with a majority of votes. Two more mandate presidents be elected with relatively high minimum pluralities. Only five allow pure plurality winners. One of them, the United States, permits the winner of the popular vote to lose the election through an Electoral College system. The 23 countries with majority and minimum plurality requirements all employ runoff elections. 22 use delayed runoff elections and one, Ireland, builds both rounds into one with instant runoff voting (IRV).Each method has implications for voter choice, quality of campaigning and respect for majority rule. This report examines each system and its implications by way of description and case studies.
This report makes clear the extent to which the preferences of black and urban voters are under-represented in the nomination process. It then argues that an early primary in Washington, D.C. is the only way to give these loyal Democratic constituencies an effective voice in the 2008 nomination.
Because Americans treasure the right to vote, they often are surprised by a shocking fact: the Constitution does not affirm the right to vote. As a result, there are virtually no federal election administration standards, and there is mass disenfranchisement at each election. Yet the history of voting rights in America since 1787 is one of general, if irregular, progress toward universal franchise. The Municipal Right to Vote Initiative seeks substantive reform at the local level while detailing a plan to take America's voting rights to their logical conclusion: an affirmative, federally protected right to vote.
Israel held elections to its parliament, the Knesset, on March 28, 2006. Frequently held up as an example of why not to adopt proportional voting, Israel's election system, critics argue, tends to produce unstable, unworkable governing coalitions. But this tendency has less to do with proportional voting than the form Israel has chosen to use, in tandem with its wider political environment. This report focuses on the effects of Israel's low electoral threshold and closed party list system.
Ukraine held elections to its parliament in March 2006. It was that country's first use of a fully proportional electoral system. The 1998 and 2002 elections used a parallel system in which half of seats were elected in single-member plurality districts. This paper analyzes the proportionality of results in historical perspective as well as turnout and number of effective votes. Institutional challenges and potential remedies are described. Choices about electoral institutions have important consequences for political outcomes in a representative democracy.