Basic historic facts about ranked choice voting

Below are two key dates for anyone writing about “ranked choice” or “preferential” voting in US elections.

1909: first adoption of majoritarian form for public elections (Grand Junction, CO);

1915: first adoption of proportional form for public elections (Ashtabula, OH).

There was use of the majoritarian form in some party primaries, but I cannot find any evidence of this prior to the Grand Junction adoption.

And there was earlier use of the proportional form, around 1911 and/or 1912, in the single-tax colonies of Arden (DE) and Halidon (ME).

The motivation for this post is a recent article flagging the 1940s as the start of US experimentation with preferential voting rules. As far as I can tell, this information passed to the journalist from a political scientist.

Does the Alternative Vote lead to STV?

I don’t think so. The logics of adoption are different. Yet the story of Cleveland (just below) suggests that it is possible… while rare.

AV finds favor where the majority can’t agree on the candidate it wants — but can agree on the one it doesn’t. AV is an agreement to passively form coalitions in elections. I say “passively” because the vote-transfer process does the work, likely with help from elite cues.

STV finds favor where the coalition is to be worked out actively, in a legislature. STV also preserves freedom to break the coalition between elections.

Continue reading “Does the Alternative Vote lead to STV?”