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Impact of Ranked Choice Voting on Representation

Sep 15, 2017

National nonprofits that study electoral reform find that "RCV increases descriptive representation
for women, people of color, and women of color."

Map of California cities using RCV

Key Findings from the report:

  • More women and people of color in elected office. Since the introduction of RCV, women have won more than 40% of all contests, women of color have won almost a quarter of all contests and people of color have won 60 percent. People of color now hold 13 of the 18 seats in San Francisco elected by RCV, which is up from eight seats before RCV was adopted (although down from 15 of 18 seats after the 2010 RCV elections). Women won nine of 11 open seats in RCV elections in 2014, and, in Oakland, have gone from holding 10 seats after the 2008 elections to 13 seats today.

  • More women and people of color are running and winning. In cities that introduced RCV, the percentage of candidates and winners among women, people of color, and women of color increased more (or declined less) than it did in a comparison group of similar cities that did not adopt RCV. 

  • Increase in the proportion of women in elected office. Our study of the effects of RCV shows that the introduction of RCV in California led to an increase in the proportion of women, and especially women of color, winning local political office. 

  • Increase in the percentage of people of color and women of color. RCV led to an increase in the percent of city council candidates who are people of color and women of color. These findings are robust and statistically significant. Our study controls for the impact of socio-economic factors (like educational attainment and the racial composition of the city), political factors (like partisanship and voter turnout), as well as electoral factors (incumbency and the use of term limits, and public financing).

Read the 2-page brief or full report from FairVote & RepresentWomen.

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