Why STV was repealed

“Dance with the one that brung ya”

Grassroots wins for ranked-choice voting will be met with Beltway hot takes. One recent piece attempts to say why early use did not persist into the present. It makes some errors, which were knowable. The first conflates proportional voting with the system in the news today. The second uses PR’s history to explain the abandonment of single-winner reforms.

We do not yet know why reformed single-winner systems ended up repealed. Also, the account of proportional-voting repeal invokes some old wisdom: cities couldn’t handle all that diversity. That is not quite right. What killed proportional voting was a series of failures to honor coalition commitments, some in places with very little diversity.

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Scholarly work on RCV

I have started a bibliography of recent, empirical, and peer-reviewed work on ranked-choice voting.

My hope is that the page will be useful to policymakers and researchers. So far, it covers burdens on voters, burdens on election officials, effects on candidates and parties, causes of adoption/repeal, and book-length historical accounts.

Please reach out if you have something to add.

Example STV ballots

PR voting ballots from the United States.

What did ballots look like in American single transferable vote elections? I can’t find examples, so I am licensing these photos for public use. The ballots are from Worcester, Massachusetts, which held six PR elections, 1949-59. Please tell me if you know of PR ballots from other cities.

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