Academic research on ranked-choice voting

This page lists peer-reviewed works on ranked-choice voting (RCV), also known as ‘preferential voting.’

I try to include all literature in American politics, then selected literature in comparative politics, published from 1980 onward. Some older items are included because they were prescient. Only items from political science and history are included.

‘RCV’ is an umbrella term for electoral systems that incorporate ranked ballots and transferable votes. Electoral systems are sets of rules for (a) ballot-marking, (b) how many winners there are, and (c) how winners are determined. See the “Overviews” section for information on RCV variants.

Other sections cover: campaign civility, ideological moderation, voter confusion, use of ranking, voter turnout, voter satisfaction, diversity effects, election administration, party-system effects, party-strategy effects, peer-reviewed cases for reform, politics of adoption/repeal, and classics from an earlier U.S. reform wave.

Created on March 7, 2018.

Last updated on September 19, 2021.

Overviews

Amy, Douglas J. 2000. Behind the Ballot Box: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting Systems. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Bean, Clive. 1997. “Australia’s Experience with the Alternative Vote.” Representation 34 (2): 103-10.

Bowler, Shaun and Bernard Grofman, eds. 2000. Elections in Australia, Ireland, and Malta under the Single Transferable Vote: Reflections on an Embedded Institution. University of Michigan Press.

Farrell, David M., Malcolm Mackerras, and Ian McAllister. 1996. “Designing Electoral Institutions: STV Systems and their Consequences.” Political Studies 44 (1): 24-43.

Farrell, David M. and Ian McAllister, eds. 2006. The Australian Electoral System: Origins, Variations, and Consequences. University of New South Wales Press.

Kimball, David C. and Joseph Anthony. 2017. “Ranked Choice Voting: A Different Way of Casting and Counting Votes.” Ch. 8 in Changing How America Votes, edited by Todd Donovan. Rowman & Littlefield.

Santucci, Jack. 2021. “Variants of Ranked-choice Voting from a Strategic Perspective.” Politics and Governance 9 (2).

Campaign civility

Donovan, Todd, Caroline Tolbert, and Kellen Gracey. 2016. “Campaign Civility under Preferential and Plurality Voting.” Electoral Studies 42: 157–163.

Juelich, Courtney L. and Joseph A. Coll. 2021. “Ranked Choice Voting and Youth Voter Turnout: The Roles of Campaign Civility and Candidate Contact.” Politics and Governance 9 (2).

Kropf, Martha. 2021. “Using Campaign Communications to Analyze Civility in Ranked Choice Voting Elections” Politics and Governance 9 (2).

Ideological moderation

Coakley, John and Jon Fraenkel. 2017. “The Ethnic Implications of Preferential Voting.” Government & Opposition 52 (4): 671-697.

Fraenkel, Jon and Bernard Grofman. 2004. “A neo-Downsian model of the alternative vote as a mechanism for mitigating ethnic conflict in plural societies.” Public Choice 121: 487-506.

Fraenkel, Jon and Bernard Grofman. 2007. “The merits of Neo-Downsian modeling of the alternative vote: A reply to Horowitz.” Public Choice 133: 1-11.

Horowitz, Donald L. 2004. “The Alternative Vote and Interethnic Moderation: A Reply to Fraenkel and Grofman.” Public Choice 121 (3): 507-16.

Horowitz, Donald L. 2006. “Strategy Takes a Holiday: Fraenkel and Grofman on the Alternative Vote.” Comparative Political Studies 39 (5): 652-62.

Horowitz, Donald L. 2007. “Where have all the parties gone? Fraenkel and Grofman on the alternative vote – yet again.” Public Choice 133: 13-23.

McDaniel, Jason. 2018. “Does More Choice Lead to Reduced Racially Polarized Voting? Assessing the Impact of Ranked-Choice Voting in Mayoral Elections.” California Journal of Politics and Policy 10 (2).

Mitchell, Paul. 2014. “The Single Transferable Vote and Ethnic Conflict: The Evidence from Northern Ireland.” Electoral Studies 33: 246-257.

Reilly, Benjamin. 2001. Democracy in Divided Societies: Electoral Engineering for Conflict Management. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Reilly, Benjamin. 2018. “Centripetalism and Electoral Moderation in Established Democracies.” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 24 (2): 201-21.

Voter confusion

Coll, Joseph A. 2021. “Demographic Disparities Using Ranked-Choice Voting? Ranking Difficulty, Under-Voting, and the 2020 Democratic Primary.” Politics and Governance 9 (2).

Curtice, John and Michael Marsh. 2014. “Confused or Competent? How Voters Use the STV Ballot Paper.” Electoral Studies 34.

Denver, David, Alistair Clark, and Lynn Bennie. 2009. “Voter Reactions to a Preferential Ballot: The 2007 Scottish Local Elections.” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties 19 (3).

Donovan, Todd, Caroline Tolbert, and Kellen Gracey. 2019. “Self-reported Understanding of Ranked-choice Voting.” Social Science Quarterly 100 (5): 1768-1776.

Maloy, J. S. and Matthew Ward. 2021. “The Impact of Input Rules and Ballot Options on Voting Error: An Experimental Analysis.” Politics and Governance 9 (2).

Neely, Francis, and Corey Cook. 2008. “Whose Votes Count? Undervotes, Overvotes, and Ranking in San Francisco’s Instant-runoff Elections.” American Politics Research 36 (4): 530–554.

Neely, Francis, and Jason A. McDaniel. 2015. “Overvoting and the Equality of Voice under Instant-Runoff Voting in San Francisco.” California Journal of Politics & Policy 7 (4): 1–27.

Use of ranking

Alvarez, R. Michael, Thad E. Hall, and Ines Levin. 2018. “Low-information Voting: Evidence from Instant-runoff Elections.” American Politics Research 46 (6).

Burnett, Craig M., and Vladimir Kogan. 2015. “Ballot (and Voter) ‘Exhaustion’ under Instant Runoff Voting: An Examination of four Ranked-choice Elections.” Electoral Studies 37:41–49.

Clark, Alistair. 2013. “Second Time Lucky? The Continuing Adaption of Voters and Parties to the Single Transferable Vote in Scotland.” Representation 49 (3).

Coll, Joseph A. 2021. “Demographic Disparities Using Ranked-Choice Voting? Ranking Difficulty, Under-Voting, and the 2020 Democratic Primary.” Politics and Governance 9 (2).

Curtice, John and Michael Marsh. 2008. How Did They Vote? Voters’ Use of the STV Ballot Paper in the 2007 Scottish Local Elections.” Representation 44 (4).

Curtice, John and Michael Marsh. 2014. “Confused or Competent? How Voters Use the STV Ballot Paper.” Electoral Studies 34.

Denver, David, Alistair Clark, and Lynn Bennie. 2009. “Voter Reactions to a Preferential Ballot: The 2007 Scottish Local Elections.” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties 19 (3).

Endersby, James W. and Michael J. Towle. 2014. “Making Wasted Votes Count: Turnout, Transfers, and Preferential Voting in Practice.” Electoral Studies 33: 144-152.

Igersheim, Herrade, François Durand, Aaron Hamlin, and Jean-François Laslier. 2021. “Comparing voting methods: 2016 US presidential election.” European Journal of Political Economy, early version.

Kilgour, D. Marc, Jean-Charles Grégoire, and Angèle M. Foley. 2019. “The Prevalence and Consequences of Ballot Truncation in Ranked-choice Elections.” Public Choice 184: 197-218.

Marsh, Michael and Carolina Plescia. 2016. “Split-Ticket Voting in an STV System: Choice in a Non-Strategic Context.” Irish Political Studies 31 (2): 163-181.

Neely, Francis, and Corey Cook. 2008. “Whose Votes Count? Undervotes, Overvotes, and Ranking in San Francisco’s Instant-runoff Elections.” American Politics Research 36 (4): 530–554.

Neely, Francis, and Jason A. McDaniel. 2015. “Overvoting and the Equality of Voice under Instant-Runoff Voting in San Francisco.” California Journal of Politics & Policy 7 (4): 1–27.

Orr, Graeme. 2002. “Ballot Order: Donkey Voting in Australia.” Election Law Journal 1 (4): 573–78.

Reidy, Theresa and Fiona Buckley. 2015. “Ballot Paper Design: Evidence from an Experimental Study at the 2009 Local Elections.” Irish Political Studies 30 (4): 619-40.

Reilly, Benjamin. 2021. “Ranked Choice Voting in Australia and America: Do Voters Follow Party Cues?” Politics and Governance 9 (2).

Shineman, Victoria Anne. 2018. “If You Mobilize Them, They Will Become Informed: Experimental Evidence that Information Acquisition Is Endogenous to Costs and Incentives to Participate.” British Journal of Political Science 48 (1): 189-211.

Voter turnout

Endersby, James W. and Michael J. Towle. 2014. “Making Wasted Votes Count: Turnout, Transfers, and Preferential Voting in Practice.” Electoral Studies 33: 144-152.

Juelich, Courtney L. and Joseph A. Coll. 2021. “Ranked Choice Voting and Youth Voter Turnout: The Roles of Campaign Civility and Candidate Contact.” Politics and Governance 9 (2).

McDaniel, Jason A. 2016. “Writing the Rules to Rank the Candidates: Examining the Impact of Instant-Runoff Voting on Racial Group Turnout in San Francisco Mayoral Elections.” Journal of Urban Affairs 38 (3): 387–408.

Zvulun, Jacky. 2012. “The Single Transferable Vote and Voter Turnout in the 2004 Local Elections.” Journal of Political Marketing 11 (3): 123-142.

Voter satisfaction

Farrell, David M. and Ian McAllister. 2006. “Voter Satisfaction and Electoral Systems: Does Preferential Voting in Candidate-centred Systems Make a Difference?” European Journal of Political Research 45 (5): 723-749.

McCarthy, Devin and Jack Santucci. 2021. “Ranked Choice Voting as a Generational Issue in Modern American Politics.” Politics & Policy 49 (1): 33-60.

Nielson, Lindsay. 2017. “Ranked Choice Voting and Attitudes Toward Democracy in the United States: Results From a Survey Experiment.” Politics & Policy 45 (4): 535–70.

Diversity effects

Buckley, Fiona, Yvonne Galligan, and Claire McGing. 2015. “Is Local Office a Springboard for Women to Dáil Éireann?” Journal of Women, Politics & Policy 36 (3): 311-335.

Burnham, Robert A. 1997. “Reform, Politics, and Race in Cincinnati: Proportional Representation and the City Charter Committee, 1924-1959.” Journal of Urban History 23, no. 2 (January): 131–163.

Burnham, Robert A. 2013. “Women and Reform in Cincinnati: Responsible Citizenship and the Politics of ‘Good Government,’ 1924–1955.” Ohio Valley History 13 (2): 48–69.

Dhima, Kostanca, Sona N. Golder, Laura B. Stephenson, Karine Van der Straeten. 2021. “Permissive Electoral Systems and Descriptive Representation.” Electoral Studies, early version.

Hirczy, Wolfgang. 1995. “STV and the Representation of Women.” PS: Political Science & Politics 28 (4).

John, Sarah E., Haley Smith, and Elizabeth Zack. 2018. “The Alternative Vote: Do Changes in Single-member Voting Systems Affect Descriptive Representation of Women and Minorities?” Electoral Studies 54: 90-102.

McGing, Claire. 2013. “The Single Transferable Vote and Women’s Representation in Ireland.” Irish Political Studies 28 (3): 322-340.

Richie, Rob, Benjamin Oestericher, Deb Otis, and Jeremy Seitz-Brown. 2021. “Lessons from the Use of Ranked Choice Voting in American Presidential Primaries.” Politics and Governance 9 (2).

Sanders, William. 2011. “Alice’s Unrepresentative Council: Cause for Intervention?” Australian Journal of Political Science 46 (4): 699-706.

Schwindt-Bayer, Leslie A., Michael Malecki, and Brian F. Crisp. 2010. “Candidate Gender and Electoral Success in Single Transferable Vote Systems.” British Journal of Political Science 40 (3).

Terrell, Cynthia Richie, Courtney Lamendola, and Maura Reilly. 2021. “Election Reform and Women’s Representation: Ranked Choice Voting in the U.S.” Politics and Governance 9 (2).

Election administration

Anthony, Joseph, Amy Fried, Robert Glover, and David C. Kimball. 2021. “Ranked Choice Voting in Maine from the Perspective of Local Election Officials.” Election Law Journal, early vesion.

Gilmour, James. 2007. “Detailed Description of the STV Count in Accordance with the Rules in the Scottish Local Government Elections Order 2007.” Representation 43 (3).

Party-system effects

Bennie, Lynn. 2006. “Transition to STV: Scottish Local Government Elections 2007.” Representation 42 (4).

Bennie, Lynn and Alistair Clark. 2008. “The Transformation of Local Politics? STV and the 2007 Scottish Local Government Elections.” Representation 44 (3).

Blais, André, Maxime Héroux-Legault, Laura Stephenson, William Cross, and Elisabeth Gidengil. 2012. “Assessing the Psychological and Mechanical Impact of Electoral Rules: A Quasi-experiment.” Electoral Studies 31 (4): 157–163.

Carty, R. Kenneth. 1981. Party and Parish Pump: Electoral Politics in Ireland. Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Eggers, Andrew C. 2021. “A Diagram for Analyzing Ordinal Voting Systems” Social Choice and Welfare 56: 143-171.

Eggers, Andrew C. and Benjamin E. Lauderdale. 2016. “Simulating Counterfactual Representation.” Political Analysis 24 (2): 281-290.

Farrell, David M. and Richard S. Katz. 2014. “Assessing the Proportionality of the Single Transferable Vote” Representation 50 (1): 13-26.

Gallagher, Michael. 1979. “The Impact of Lower Preference Votes on Irish Parliamentary Elections, 1922-1977.” Economic and Social Review 11 (1): 19—32.

Gallagher, Michael. 1986. “The Political Consequences of the Single Transferable Vote in the Republic of Ireland.” Electoral Studies 5 (3): 253-275.

Jansen, Harold J. 2004. “The Political Consequences of the Alternative Vote: Lessons from Western Canada.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 37 (3): 647-669.

Latner, Michael S. and Kyle Roach. 2011. “Mapping the Consequences of Electoral Reform.” California Journal of Politics and Policy 3 (1): 1-22.

Marsh, Michael. 2007. “Candidates or Parties? Objects of Electoral Choice in Ireland.” Party Politics 13 (4): 500-527.

Party-strategy effects

Bowler, Shaun and David M. Farrell. 1991. “Voter Behavior under STV-PR: Solving the Puzzle of the Irish Party System.” Political Behavior 13 (4): 303-320.

Clark, Alistair and Lynn Bennie. 2008. “Strategic Actors or Muddling Through? Political Parties, Local Campaigning and the Single Transferable Vote.” Representation 44 (4).

Clark, Alistair. 2012. “Party Organization and Concurrent Multi-level Local Campaigning: The 2007 Scottish Elections under MMP and STV.” Party Politics 18 (4).

Clark, Alistair. 2020. “The Effects of Electoral Reform on Party Campaigns, Voters and Party Systems at the Local Level: From Single Member Plurality to the Single Transferable Vote in Scotland.” Local Government Studies, early version.

Gallagher, Michael. 1978. “Party Solidarity, Exclusivity and Inter-Party Relationships in Ireland, 1922-1977: The Evidence of Transfers.” Economic and Social Review 10 (1): 1-22.

Kousser, Thad. 2019. “Tweet Style: Campaigning, Governing, and Social Media in Australia.” Australian Journal of Political Science 54 (2): 183-201.

Miragliotta, Narelle and Campbell Sharman. 2014. “Managing midterm vacancies: institutional design and partisan strategy in the Australian parliament, 1901–2013.” Australian Journal of Political Science 52 (3): 351-366.

Reilly, Benjamin and Jack Hudson Stewart. 2021. “Compulsory Preferential Voting, Social Media and ‘Come-from-behind’ Electoral Victories in Australia.” Australian Journal of Political Science, early version.

Santucci, Jack. 2018. “Evidence of a Winning-cohesion Tradeoff under Multi-winner Ranked-choice Voting.” Electoral Studies 52: 128-138.

Sharman, Campbell, Anthony M. Sayers, and Narelle Miragliotta. 2002. “Trading Party Preferences: The Australian Experience of Preferential Voting.” Electoral Studies 21 (4): 543-560.

Peer-reviewed cases for reform (or retention)

Amy, Douglas J. 2002. Real Choices / New Voices: How Proportional Representation Elections Could Revitalize American Democracy, 2nd edition. New York: Columbia University Press.

Drutman, Lee. 2020. Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gallagher, Michael. 1987. “Does Ireland need a new electoral system?” Irish Political Studies 2 (1): 27-48.

Maloy, Jason S. 2019. Smarter Ballots: Electoral Realism and Reform. Palgrave MacMillan.

Richie, Robert. 2004. “Instant Runoff Voting: What Mexico (and Others) Could Learn.” Election Law Journal 3 (3): 501-12.

Politics of adoption/repeal

Amy, Douglas J. 1996. “The Forgotten History of the Single Transferable Vote in the United States.” Representation 34 (1): 13–20.

Barber, Kathleen, ed. 1995. Proportional Representation and Election Reform in Ohio. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press.

Cheyne, Christine and Margie Comrie. 2005. “Empowerment or Encumbrance? Exercising the STV Option for Local Authority Elections in New Zealand” Local Government Studies 31 (2): 185-204.

Curtice, John. 2007. “STV Goes Tartan: A Preliminary Analysis of its Use in the 2007 Scottish Elections.” Representation 43 (3).

DeLeon, Richard, Steven Hill, and Lisel Blash. 1998. “The Campaign for Proposition H and Preference Voting in San Francisco, 1996.” Representation 35 (4): 265-274.

Engstrom, Richard L. 1990. “Cincinnati’s 1988 Proportional Representation Initiative.” Electoral Studies 9 (3): 217-225.

Farrell, David M. and Ian McAllister. 2005. “1902 and the Origins of Preferential Electoral Systems in Australia.” Australian Journal of Politics and History 51 (2): 155-167.

Farrell, David M., Jane Suiter, and Clodagh Harris. 2017. “The challenge of reforming a ‘voter-friendly’ electoral system: The debates over Ireland’s single transferable vote.” Irish Political Studies 32 (2): 293-310.

Lucas, Jack. 2019. “Reaction or Reform? Subnational Evidence on P.R. Adoption from Canadian Cities.” Representation, early online version.

McCarthy, Devin and Jack Santucci. 2021. “Ranked Choice Voting as a Generational Issue in Modern American Politics.” Politics & Policy 49 (1): 33-60.

Pilon, Dennis. 2013. Wrestling With Democracy: Voting Systems as Politics in the Twentieth-Century West. University of Toronto Press.

Prosterman, Daniel O. 2013. Defining Democracy: Electoral Reform and the Struggle for Power in New York City. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Reilly, Benjamin. 2004. “The Global Spread of Preferential Voting: Australian Institutional Imperialism?” Australian Journal of Political Science 39 (2): 253-66.

Santucci, Jack. 2017. “Party Splits, not Progressives: The Origins of Proportional Representation in American Local Government.” American Politics Research 45 (3): 494–526.

Santucci, Jack. 2018. “Maine Ranked-choice Voting as a Case of Electoral-system Change.” Representation 54 (3).

Weaver, Leon. 1986. “The Rise, Decline, and Resurrection of Proportional Representation in Local Governments in the United States.” Chap. 8 in Electoral Laws and their Political Consequences, edited by Bernard Grofman and Arend Lijphart, 139–153. New York, NY: Agathon Press.

Weeks, O. Douglas. 1937. “Summary of the History and Present Status of Preferential Voting in State Direct Primary Systems.” The Southwestern Social Science Quarterly 18 (1): 64-7.

Ancient classics

Harris, Joseph P. 1930. “The Practical Workings of Proportional Representation in the United States and Canada.” National Municipal Review 19 (5): 3-50.

Hermens, Ferdinand A. 1941. Democracy or Anarchy? A Study of Proportional Representation. South Bend: Review of Politics, University of Notre Dame. (Also see reviews by Gosnell [1941] and Lien [1941].)

Gosnell, Harold F. 1930. “Motives for Voting as Shown by the Cincinnati P.R. Election of 1929.” National Municipal Review 19 (7): 471-476.

Gosnell, Harold F. 1939. “A List System with Single Candidate Preference.” American Political Science Review 33 (4): 645-650.

Lien, Arnold. 1925. “Eight Years of Proportional Representation in Boulder.” Washington University Studies 13: 247-66. (NOTE: Journal not online anywhere. Contact me for a copy.)

Mott, Rodney L. 1926. “Invalid Ballots Under the Hare System of Proportional Representation.” American Political Science Review 20 (4): 874-882.

Shaw, Frederick. 1954. The History of the New York City Legislature. New York: Columbia University Press.

Straetz, Ralph A. 1958. PR Politics in Cincinnati: Thirty-two Years of City Government through Proportional Representation. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Zeller, Belle, and Hugh A. Bone. 1948. “The Repeal of PR in New York City: Ten Years in Retrospect.” American Political Science Review 42, no. 6 (December): 1127–48.