Ranked Choice Voting and Incumbent Success

Posted on September 24, 2021

This short report from FairVote examines whether RCV impacts the success rate for incumbent candidates who run for re-election. The analysis compares 8 RCV cities to 12 non-RCV cities to identify which factors contribute to an incumbent's chance of winning reelection, and finds that RCV is not a significant contributing factor. 

The results align with past FairVote work which found that four Bay Area cities saw no change in incumbent success rate before and after they switched to RCV. 

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The History of Ranked Choice Voting in Maine

Posted on December 13, 2019

The movement for ranked choice voting (RCV) has seen a number of successes over the past few years. One of the greatest examples comes from the state of Maine. While well worth the fight, Maine’s transition to RCV required repeated struggles by the state’s voters against numerous challenges, both legislative and in court. The tumult led one court to claim, “[t]he history of ranked-choice voting in Maine to date could provide the substance of an entire civics course on the creation of statutory law in the State of Maine.” This report follows the story of the implementation and use of RCV in Maine with the aim of highlighting instructive examples of wins and setbacks to serve as a roadmap for RCV advocates across the country.

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History of Congressional Elections

Posted on February 06, 2019

In the coming months, U.S. Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia plans to reintroduce the Fair Representation Act, reviving the bold new vision for congressional elections originally put forth in his 2017 legislation by the same name.

Multi-member congressional districts with ranked choice voting remain new ideas to many, but the proposals are increasingly gaining traction among elected officials and news media, including the editorial board of The New York Times. Moreover, the idea is not a new one. Each element drew upon a rich history of local, state, and federal approaches to elections. Finally, its approach was consistent with centuries of congressional action to address problems in federal elections

In this white paper, we show how that history evolved since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788, along with how progress has stalled since 1967. With the dysfunction of the current system more apparent each election cycle, the time has come to revisit how we elect the "People's House."

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Santa Clara's Measure A and Communities of Color

Posted on May 30, 2018

MeasureACover.PNGIn this short report, FairVote assesses the impact of a proposed charter amendment in Santa Clara on the voting rights of Santa Clara's Asian American and Latino communities. The amendment, which will be on the ballot on June 5, 2018 as Measure A, would institute the use of multi-winner ranked choice voting for Santa Clara's City Council. Specifically, the city would divide into two multi-winner districts, and each would elect three members to the City Council.

The analysis concludes that based on the demographics of each district and voter turnout in prior elections, Measure A would result in dramatically increased political power for communities of color in Santa Clara. Asian American voters would have the power to elect one candidate of choice in each district, and Latino voters would have the power to elect a candidate of choice in one of the two districts. It further analyzes an alternative proposal: multi-winner ranked choice voting in citywide elections for all six seats simultaneously. This would have a similar impact, with potentially better representation of the distinct views of Santa Clara's South Asian and East Asian communities, though it would involve the elimination of staggered elections.

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Ranked Choice Voting and Racial Minority Voting Rights in the Bay Area

Posted on May 15, 2018

RCV_VotingRights_BayArea_2018April-cover.pngIn this short report, FairVote assesses the election rates of people of color in the California Bay Area before and after the adoption of ranked choice voting. We show that people of color hold office at a higher rate under ranked choice voting than under the prior system. We also demonstrate that people of color win office more often since the adoption of ranked choice voting across three different ways of categorizing districts: plurality-minority (districts where one ethnic minority group is the largest in the district); white-plurality (districts where ethnic minority groups are collectively in the majority, but whites are the largest single group); and white-majority.

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Comparative Structural Reform

Posted on August 28, 2015

Comparative Structural Reform presents an extensive assessment of the potential impact of 37 structural reforms to election laws and legislative structures in collaboration with 14 prominent political scholars. Scholars participating in the project are authorities on electoral reform and legislative functionality, with extensive collective expertise and mastery of both quantitative and qualitative approaches to the study of American legislatures, elections and electoral rules. Each of the participating scholars was asked to assess each reform’s impact on 16 different criteria fitting within four topline categories: legislative functionality, electoral accountability, voter engagement, and openness of process. Scholars were compensated for their participation. All scholars responded to all eleven surveys and provided a wealth of insightful comments, new sources, and useful information in addition to their well-considered ratings of each reform.

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