Ranked Choice Voting and Representation

Different voting systems impact all types of representation, including voter ideology, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, experiences and interests. This page explores research into the representation of different groups under ranked choice voting (RCV) and other American election systems.

Representation for Women and People of Color

FairVote. May 2021. Ranked Choice Voting Elections Benefit Candidates and Voters of Color.

Terrell, C., Lamendola, C., Reilly, M. June 2021. Election Reform and Women's Representation: Ranked Choice Voting in the U.S. Politics and Governance, 9(2), 332-343.

John, S., Smith, H., & Zack, E. August 2018. The alternative vote: Do changes in single-member voting systems affect descriptive representation of women and minorities?

Liu, B., Mahallati, N., & Turner, C. April 2021. Ranked-Choice Voting Delivers Representation and Consensus in Presidential Primaries.

FairVote. November 2019. Ranked Choice Voting and Racial Minority Voting Rights.

Crowder-Meyer, M., Kusher Gadarian, S., Trounstine, J. January 2021. Ranking Candidates in Local Elections: Neither Panacea nor Catastrophe.

Douglas, Andrew. February 2014. The Effect of Fair Representation Voting on 2013 Cambridge Municipal Elections

John, S., Smith, H., & Zack, E. July 2016. Ranked Choice Voting and Representation of Underrepresented Groups.

Atsusaka, Y. & Landsman, T. April 2021. Does Ranked-Choice Voting Reduce Racial Polarization? A Clustering Approach to Ranked Ballot Data.

McDaniel, J. October 2018. Does More Choice Lead to Reduced Racially Polarized Voting? Assessing the Impact of Ranked-Choice Voting in Mayoral Elections.



Representation for Differing Political Viewpoints

Roughly 35% of voters self-identify as Independent according to Gallup polling. In spite of their numerousness, unaffiliated voters have little influence in Congress or in most state legislatures. 

RCV improves prospects for independent and third party voters and candidates. While single-winner RCV might not increase the election of minor party candidates in the US, as candidates must clear a majority threshold to win, RCV allows supporters of those candidates to sincerely rank their preferred candidate first without feeling like their votes are wasted and with minimal chance that support will spoil the election outcome.

Related research:

Cerrone, J., McClintock, C. March 2021. Ranked-Choice Voting, Runoff, and Democracy: Insights from Maine and Other U.S. States

Baker,  M. April 2021. Voters Evaluate Ideologically Extreme Candidates as Similarly Electable under Ranked Choice Voting and Plurality Voting.

John, S. & Leinz, B. April 2016. Polarization and Multi-winner Ranked Choice Voting in Cambridge, Massachusetts, City Council Elections.

Electoral Institutions and Substantive Representation in Local Politics: The Effects of Ranked Choice Voting by Arjun Vishwanath. (July 2021).

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