Our research shows that ranked choice voting (RCV) can be used to increase the descriptive representation of women and people of color in the United States. In a ranked choice voting election, voters rank as many or as few candidates as they like in order of choice; first, second, third, and so on. When a candidate has a majority of first-choice rankings they win, just like any election. However, if no candidate has a majority, the last-place candidate is eliminated, and voters whose first choice lost have their votes instantly go to their next choice. The process repeats until two candidates remain, and the candidate with the majority wins.
In 2016, RepresentWomen (then known as Representation2020), studied the impact of RCV on women and people of color running for elected office in the California Bay Area. The 2016 report (above) found that women won more than 40% of all ranked choice contests in the Bay Area and people of color won 60%.
A lot has changed since 2016. Six more cities have used ranked choice voting in their municipal elections since the release of our last report. Maine has since adopted the use of RCV statewide. And five states (Alaska, Nevada, Hawaii, Kansas, and Wyoming) are now set to use ranked choice voting as part of the presidential primaries. Our next report, RCVictories, A Decade of Ranked Choice Voting, will review these changes and revisit the role of ranked choice voting in electing more women in the United States.
Until we share this report, please continue scrolling to learn more about how ranked choice voting has increased women's representation in local government.
By January 2020, 16 cities have used ranked choice voting to elect sitting city officials, including 12 mayors and the city councilmembers in 14 jurisdictions. Over the last decade (2010-2019), women have won 45% of all municipal ranked choice elections. In 2020, half of all mayors elected by RCV are women and 49% of all city council seats decided by RCV are held by women.
To learn more about the role of ranked choice voting in electing women over the last decade, please review the following blog written by RepresentWomen research fellow, Maura Reilly: HERE.
*This page is currently under construction, but the above information is all up-to-date. Please stay tuned for additional interactive content and resources. If you have any questions about the importance of electoral reforms for electing more women, please contact the RepresentWomen team.