Ranked-Choice Voting and Democratic Attitudes

AuthorManuel Gutiérrez,Alan J. Simmons,John Transue
Published date01 November 2022
Date01 November 2022
Subject MatterArticles
American Politics Research
2022, Vol. 50(6) 811822
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/1532673X221109519
Ranked-Choice Voting and Democratic
Manuel Guti´
, Alan J. Simmons
, and John Transue
Ranked-Choice voting is an electoral system that has become a subject of analysis after its implementation across multiple
municipalities and two states. An electoral system can affect several aspects of the election, including how voters perceive the
system. Our research addresses the impact of RCV on votersattitudes towards democracy. In this study, we develop a theory
of why ranked-choice voting will increase support for democracy and candidates, even if their preferred choice does not win.
With a survey experiment, we f‌ind some support for the claim that participating in an RCV election affects how respondents
perceive democracy. With the ongoing polarization and partisanship, RCV may provide an avenue for improvi ng assessments
and attitudes towards democracy.
democracy, electoral systems, ranked choice voting, satisfaction, voting ballots
In most states and localities across the US, individuals elect
politicians under plurality voting rules. In theory, a candidate
can be elected with a small percentage of the vote if there are
multiple candidates in a race. Relatively recently, some local
and state off‌icials have implemented new types of electoral
systems in attempts to address various criticisms, either real
or perceived, of the current f‌irst-past-the-post electoral sys-
tem. One of the electoral systems being adopted by some
localities and states is ranked-choice voting, also known as
instant runoff voting. Ranked-Choice Voting is a system that
allows voters to select multiple candidates in order of pref-
erence. Once votes are counted, if the f‌irst place does not
receive a majority (50% + 1) of the votes, then the RCV
process begins. By eliminating the last place from the
competition, the second option of those voters will be added
to the tally. This process will carry on until someone receives
50% + 1 of the votes and, therefore, wins with a majority and
not a plurality.
Ranked-choice voting had previously been adopted across
several localities in the early 1900s, but by the 1950s, many
had switched back to a f‌irst-past-the-post plurality electoral
system. In the early 2000s, several prominent cities including
San Francisco, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Oakland, and others
adopted ranked-choice voting in their local elections. A
number of state-level political parties began using RCVin the
primaries for various elected off‌ices. Interest in ranked-choice
voting continued to spread through local elections and state
primaries through the 2000s. In 2016 Maine became the f‌irst
state to adopt RCV in federal general elections, which include
congress, senate, and presidential elections. Following the
controversial 2016 US presidential election, where Donald
Trump became president having lost the national popular vote
to Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton 4649% there has been
increased interest in RCV to decrease the likelihood someone
would be elected president without the support of the majority
of voters.
In the build-up to the 2020 presidential election, this in-
crease in attention towards RCV could be observed in major
media outlets. RCV caught some national attention for a few
reasons. First, Maines Senate race showed a close race
between two candidates and there was some speculation that
RCV would be required to decide control of the US Senate.
Considering RCV f‌lipped the results of Maines 2nd con-
gressional district between the f‌irst and second round of
voting in 2018, expecting RCV to possibly play a role in
Maine was not without merit. In Maine, polls showed a close
race between incumbent Susan Collins and challenger Sara
Gideon and if Collins had f‌inished under 50%, the second
and possibly third choices of voters in the four-candidate race
would have been reallocated (MacQuarrie, 2020).Second,
Institute for Legal, Legislative and Policy Studies, University of Illinois at
Springf‌ield, Springf‌ield, IL, USA
Corresponding Author:
Manuel Guti´
errez, Institution Legal, Legislative and Policy Studies, University
of Illinois at Springf‌ield, Springf‌ield, IL, USA.
Email: mguti3@uis.edu

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT