Why STV was repealed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We do not yet know why reformed single-winner systems ended up repealed.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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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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Painful vote counts under RCV?

Outcomes used to offset the headache.

One possible bug in ranked-choice voting is the duration of a vote count. This is especially true in the proportional representation (PR) form, since ballots may move around a lot more than in “instant-runoff voting.” Many used to suggest that painful vote counts were a cause of PR’s repeal. This claim resurfaced yesterday in a private exchange about Al Southwick’s piece on PR in Worcester, Mass. Southwick writes:

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