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Pages tagged "Topic: Proportional Ranked Choice Voting"

Country Brief: Oceania

RepresentWomen is committed to researching and identifying the best practices for increasing women’s representation in politics, drawing from evidence around the world. Part of this work leads us to track parliamentary elections and compare regional outcomes closely. We then identify the common trends impacting women’s representation, informing our U.S.-based work. This particular brief brings attention to how election rules and voting systems shape opportunities for women to enter politics within the Oceania region.

Executive Summary:

The Oceania region has some of the lowest numbers regarding women's political representation, demonstrating a need for the region’s countries to adopt systems strategies as a means to achieve gender-balanced governance. On average, women's representation in the Oceania region in lower houses of parliament is 20%, lower than the global average of 27%

The majority of countries in Oceania fare poorly in terms of women’s representation – Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea have under two percent women in their government – but the region also contains New Zealand, one of the strongest countries regarding women's representation globally. New Zealand is the only country in the region with both proportional representation (PR) and gender quotas.  

Across Oceania’s 14 countries – Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu – women’s representation varies immensely. These differences show that systems strategies such as proportional representation and gender quotas are not just vital to ensuring women’s equal political representation but are most influential when implemented simultaneously. 

 In short, we find that: 

  1. Countries with proportional voting systems (PR) have the highest levels of women’s representation; PR creates opportunities, removes barriers for women to enter politics, and ensures representation for multiple minority constituencies in the same election. 
  2. Gender quotas are most effective when combined with PR voting systems. Countries that have quotas but use winner-take-all systems have significantly lower levels of women’s representation. New Zealand, which has reached political parity across all levels of government, shows this. 
  3. Strategies that advance women’s representation in the legislature have a ripple effect on other branches of government. Countries that use proportional voting systems, have gender quotas, or combine the two see the highest levels of women’s cabinet representation. This is shown in Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and Samoa.

Download the Brief 

Slidedeck: PRCV in the US Timeline

RepresentWomen researches and advances the best practices for reaching gender-balanced governance in the U.S. Our research shows that voting systems shape the opportunities women have to run for office and get elected. This timeline accompanies a new brief that analyses the impact of proportional ranked choice voting (PRCV) on women's representation in the United States. Through this timeline, we highlight milestones for women thought leaders and elected officials who have contributed to the ongoing story of PRCV in the U.S. Both the brief and timeline are part of an ongoing series updating our research on voting systems in the U.S. and the impact different systems have on women’s political representation. Previous installments in this series covered voting systems around the world and the impact of ranked choice voting (RCV) on women’s representation.


Brief: Proportional Ranked Choice Voting

RepresentWomen researches and advances the best practices for reaching gender-balanced governance in the U.S. Our research shows that voting systems shape the opportunities women have to run for office and get elected. This brief is part of an ongoing series updating our research on voting systems in the U.S. and the impact different systems have on women’s political representation. Previous installments in this series covered voting systems around the world and the impact of ranked choice voting (RCV) on women’s representation. The following brief covers how proportional ranked choice voting (PRCV) works, the history of PRCV in the United States, the issues with our current plurality/winner-take-all (WTA) system, and why PRCV is the best system to advance women’s political representation in the U.S.


RepresentWomen’s research shows that progress toward political parity is slow and uneven in the United States. Our research also shows that our current WTA voting system is partially to blame for the underrepresentation of women in politics because it rewards gatekeeping behaviors that prevent women from running for office. By removing the barriers women face, system strategies such as PRCV facilitate candidate entry, increase competition, drive deeper candidate-constituent relationships, decrease polarization, and yield more representative outcomes.

Based on the available evidence, we have found that PRCV mitigates the threat of majority tyranny and places power back in the hands of voters, paving the way toward a gender-balanced and representative democracy. 

  • PRCV creates opportunities for women candidates to enter politics by eliminating fears of vote splitting, decreasing campaign costs, reducing incumbency advantage, and encouraging candidate recruitment. 
  • PRCV enables multiple constituencies to elect candidates of choice. Because PRCV elections are multi-winner, multiple interest groups can be represented within the same district, allowing for diverse governing coalitions in terms of gender, race, and ideology. 
  • Women played a critical role in advancing PRCV within the United States. Not only does PRCV have a deep history of use within the United States, but women have been a part of this movement from the beginning. 
  • PRCV resulted in the election of the first women on several city councils, including in Cleveland, OH; New York, NY; Hamilton, OH; and Cambridge, MA. 
  • PRCV is the only form of PR compatible with all United States elections – both partisan and nonpartisan. The majority of local elections are nonpartisan, and PRCV is the only PR system that has been tried in the U.S. 

View the Brief 

Memo: International Voting Systems


Women’s political representation is vital to sustaining good governance worldwide. But while women comprise over half of the world’s population, men still hold the majority of seats in almost every legislature. Research has shown that diversity in political representation leads to more inclusive and effective lawmaking. Women, in particular, bring different forms of consensus building and attention to various policy issues, including but not limited to “women’s issues” such as healthcare, childcare, and education. This means that political processes and outcomes suffer when women are excluded from office.

RepresentWomen has been studying the relationship between voting systems and women’s political representation for the last five years. Through our research, we have found that voting systems shape opportunities for women to enter politics. In both the United States and around the world, cases like New York City, South Africa, and New Zealand further demonstrate the viability of major system changes and the potential impact of adopting a new voting system.

The following memo presents an update to our analysis of voting systems globally, their impact on women’s representation, and the case for proportional ranked choice voting in the United States. Where appropriate, we also discuss the role of complementary candidate-focused strategies and initiatives, such as gender quotas and candidate recruitment groups.

The goal of this memo is to equip our partners in the U.S. with updated data and supporting literature on the impact of proportional representation (PR) on women’s representation, drawing from stories of how PR improved women’s representation in the United States (1910s-1940s), South Africa (1990s-today), and New Zealand (1990s-today). This memo further builds the case for proportional ranked choice voting (PRCV) in the U.S., pushing back on recent efforts to introduce non-viable forms of PR. Previous research releases on this topic: 2020, 2019, 2018


Voting systems inform how ballots are designed, how people cast their votes, how the results are counted, and how the winners are determined. The type of voting system used can greatly impact voter turnout, the role of political parties, candidate engagement, and representation. While there are many kinds of voting systems used around the world, there are three basic types: 


  • Plurality-Majority (Non-PR): Non-proportional systems allow the candidate with the most votes to be declared the winner. In plurality systems, a candidate can win with less than 50% of the vote; in majority systems, a runoff ensues if a candidate does not receive at least 50% of the vote.
  • Proportional Representation (PR): In a proportional system, seats are allocated to parties in proportion to the total number of votes received. PR is used around the world in various forms; New Zealand uses a mixed member proportional system (MMP), South Africa uses a party list system, and several cities in the U.S. use proportional ranked choice voting (PRCV).
  • Semi-Proportional (Semi-PR): Semi-proportional systems combine elements of non-PR and PR systems. Semi-PR systems are often more representative than non-PR systems because they ensure that political minorities are at least somewhat represented. 

According to our research, women’s representation is lower in countries with plurality-majority systems because plurality systems reinforce existing barriers for women in politics; when a candidate only needs a plurality to win, political parties and donors are more likely to back “establishment” candidates (often white men) to improve their odds. Plurality voting also limits competition against incumbents and encourages negative campaigning, potentially deterring women from running in the first place. 

Proportional representation (PR) yields the best opportunities for women. Unlike plurality systems, where a single candidate–and party–wins the district, multiple winners are elected to represent a single district in PR systems, and multiple political parties may be represented at a time. In addition to creating more opportunities for political minorities to be represented, PR systems tend to create more diverse legislatures, with more women and people of color nominated and elected. Overall, PR is the best way to ensure full and fair representation. 

With the support of women’s organizations like the National League of Women Voters, PRCV was first adopted in the United States during the Progressive Era, leading to the milestone elections of women and people of color in cities like New York City. Though few original cities use the system today, a new wave of cities are now looking to adopt PRCV. Based on our research, RepresentWomen supports the adoption of PRCV over other forms of PR in the United States. In addition to being the only form of PR with a history of use in the U.S., it is also the only form of PR that is suited for nonpartisan elections, which are held in two-thirds of American cities.

Download Memo

Map: Multi-Member Districts and Ranked Choice Voting in the States

infogram_0_724e9818-19c2-4e98-adf9-4dcffc464cea2022 State-Level MMDs and RCV Map


This map shows whether states have single-member plurality districts, two-member districts, or 3+ member districts (multi-member). The map also shows the two states that use ranked choice voting (Alaska and Maine). District magnitude matters because this determines how many subgroups can be represented. If there are more seats available, more groups obtain representation. 

Slidedeck: Fair Representation Act

This slideshow provides an overview of how the Fair Representation Act would help improve representation for women. Last updated in 2021.


Dashboard: 2021 Fair Representation Act Projections

infogram_0_bd82aeca-ccaa-4215-bddf-3b9d972a8d382021 FRA - 9.21 FRA Maps - Stacked


This map has two tabs: women's representation in the 117th Congress, and potential women's representation in Congress if the Fair Representation Act was passed. The Fair Representation Act would:

  1. Create multi-member districts,
  2. Implement ranked choice voting for all U.S. House elections, and 
  3. Establish an independent redistricting commission.

All of these reforms would contribute to making elections more competitive and achieving more representative outcomes for all. 

Factsheet: Women's Representation Under the Fair Representation Act

infogram_0_7acbac9c-2fe8-414a-baea-ff5330a5987b2021 RCV - FRA Handout

Slidedeck: Systems-Based Strategies from Around the World

Our research shows that while there are record numbers of women running for and serving in government, there is much to be done to ensure more women can run, win, serve, and lead in office in the United States and around the globe. 

As it stands, the United States ranks 72nd (as of October 2022) according to the IPU’s monthly rankings of women serving in national parliaments. Not only is there much to be learned from the systems in place which allow more opportunities for women in office, there is also room to work with organizations, advocating for systems-based reforms. RepresentWomen studies best practices that have been proven to advance women’s representation and leadership around the world, and then advocates for use of those best practices in the United States.

Why should we care about system-based strategies that have worked to increase the number of women in government in other countries? Research in other countries shows that having more women in government has resulted in an increase of laws to protect victims of sexual harassment, rape, and domestic violence. Specific cases in countries like India and Norway also show that women politicians are more likely to address issues such as food security, childcare, and healthcare. This means that work done abroad has not only been successful in bringing more women to the table, but it has also produced policies that benefit entire communities. By observing and adopting some of the best practices that have worked internationally, the U.S. could enjoy similar, positive outcomes for women’s representation.

Are you interested in sharing this important information with your community? This shareable slidedeck is ready-made for your use.


infogram_0_4c9e699e-985b-4f0b-a02c-5dbf7a7061ec2021 International - Int'l Take Action Slide Deck

Podcast: On the Issues with Michele Goodwin

3.2021 On the Issues "From Filibuster to Representation: Is the Senate Broken"

This podcast from Ms. Magazine looks at the failings of the U.S. Senate including the design of the institution itself, which protects arcane rules and undemocratic processes. Is the Senate truly representative? Is the electoral system fair? Is it time to eliminate the electoral college? What other electoral reforms should we be considering? What does contemporary voter suppression look like?

Listen to the Episode