Ranked Choice Voting and Minority Representation

In a new preprint, we outline and demonstrate a data-driven methodology that voting rights advocates can use to understand likely impacts of ranked choice voting for securing minority representation in local government. We incorporate both election data and demographics, with variable assumptions on candidate availability and voter turnout. The core of our analysis uses four models of voter ranking behavior that take racial polarization into account; to assess districts, we use random district-generation algorithms developed at the Lab. We focus on the case of STV or “single transferable vote,” where multiple officials are elected from a single district, because this is known to promote proportionality.

We have four case studies: judicial elections in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana; the county commission of Jones County, North Carolina; and the city councils of Cincinnati, Ohio and Pasadena, Texas. We find that STV provides proportional or slightly better representation for the relevant minority group in each case, while districts vary widely in their effectiveness depending on local circumstances.

Read the preprint here.

We intend this as a set of tools that will help researchers, litigators, and the public assess ranked choice opportunities. Try the webapp here.

More case studies

We have a growing list of individual jurisdictions where we’ve done detailed ranked-choice modeling.

Whole states

Cities, counties, school boards