Research Reports

2008's Shrinking Battleground and Its Stark Impact on Campaign Activity

Posted on December 03, 2008

Both major party candidates in the 2008 presidential election made an ambitious promise upon effectively securing their party’s nominations —to wage nationwide campaigns and reach out to as many voters in as many states as possible. But the candidate's good intentions were undercut by the political reality created by the current Electoral College system and states’ use of the winner-take-all rule. Under that winner-take-all rule, candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize or pay attention to the concerns of states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind.

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International Snapshot: Scotland 2007

Posted on July 10, 2007

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.

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The Feasibility of Instant Runoff Voting in Vermont

Posted on March 08, 2007

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.

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International Snapshot: Poland

Posted on July 31, 2006

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.

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Majority Rule in International Presidential Elections

Posted on June 05, 2006

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.

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Outside Looking In

Posted on May 30, 2006

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.

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Municipal Right to Vote Action Plan

Posted on May 03, 2006

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.

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