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What If Voters Don't Rank All the Candidates?: Inactive Ballots in Single-Choice vs. Instant Runoff Voting

November 13, 2023

● Instant runoff voting (IRV) is a form of ranked choice voting that, after voters rank candidates in order of preference, eliminates candidates who have the least top-choice support. Votes that do not help voters' top choices will count for their next choice. The process repeats until a single candidate remains.● Single-choice voting (also known as plurality voting) only allows each voter to choose one candidate.● Inactive ballots are any ballots that do not contribute to the outcome between the final two candidates. They constitute a small percentage of all ballots in IRV elections.● Inactive ballots arise in nearly every election method, but IRV results in fewer ballots becoming inactive than single-choice voting. This is demonstrated by real-world examples from Maine, New York City, San Francisco, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming. 

Uncompetitive and Unrepresented: Voters Locked Out of Representation

May 3, 2023

Tens of millions of Americans have essentially no voice in the U.S. House due to our broken winner-take-all elections. This report estimates the number of voters "locked out of representation" and proposes solutions to restore a voice to every voter.Key findings include:Only 8% of U.S. House elections in 2022 were truly competitive.About 62 million eligible voters live in districts that are safe for the political party they oppose.The Fair Representation Act would give a voice to all Americans who are currently locked out of representation.

Monopoly Politics 2024

February 13, 2023

FairVote has conducted the Monopoly Politics project in each Congressional election cycle since 1997.Monopoly Politics projects the results of every congressional district up to two years in advance, demonstrating that partisanship is the primary factor determining electoral outcomes, dwarfing other factors like local issues and candidate strength. The result is a polarized system where candidates are rewarded for adopting hyper-partisan platforms, particularly in hyper-partisan districts, instead of championing inclusive policies and bipartisan compromise that benefit all. Our 2024 projections suggest that 85% of seats are "safe" for one party, and another 9% favor one party, leaving only 6% of seats as true toss-ups. The 85% share of safe seats is the highest in the 25-year history of Monopoly Politics. At FairVote, we think outside the box. We promote legislative reform that prevents gerrymandering and improves equal voting power and fair representation in multi-winner districts. FairVote is working to end single-winner congressional districts. To end redistricting battles for good, we must reimagine how we elect our representatives.

Dubious Democracy 2022

January 20, 2023

FairVote's 2022 Dubious Democracy report highlights the overwhelming lack of competition in U.S. House of Representatives elections. We ranked all 50 states on "Voter Voice" based on their performance on five sub-measures:margin of victoryamount of landslide victoriesvoter turnoutvoter consensus for winning candidatespartisan skewThis congressional cycle stands out because of a particularly high number of uncontested seats and a particularly low number of competitive seats. Additionally, the 118th U.S. House has been elected by the smallest share of the population since 2014.

2022 Ranked Choice Voting Year in Review

January 6, 2023

This report provides an overview of ranked choice voting (RCV) in 2022, highlighting RCV election results and adoptions, with special attention to developments in Alaska and Virginia.

Primary Runoff Elections and Decline in Voter Turnout

November 9, 2022

Ten states hold primary runoff elections if no candidate wins a majority of the votes in a major party's primary: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, North Carolina (30% threshold), and South Dakota (35% threshold).This report studies three decades of primary runoff elections. Based on turnout declines, disparate outcomes for voters of color, and high costs of runoff elections, FairVote recommends ranked choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, as a way to preserve the goals of runoff elections while solving their pervasive issues.

Monopoly Politics 2022 Report

August 11, 2022

Produced every two years since 1997, FairVote's Monopoly Politics analysis emphasizes what really matters in congressional elections over candidates, platforms, and issues: partisanship.This report presents our full 2022 House of Representatives projections and methodology, examines decades-long trends in incumbent advantage and crossover representatives, and presents the Fair Representation Act as the solution to the dysfunction in the House of Representatives.

Best Practices for Releasing RCV Election Results

August 10, 2022

Ranked-choice voting (RCV) uses a round-by-round count of ballots to eliminate the candidates with the least support and to ensure that the candidate with majority support wins. Ranked-choice voting reduces wasted votes and encourages people to vote sincerely, rather than strategically. In any election, however, one thing remains the same: the public – voters, candidates, parties, and the media – will have an intense interest in learning the results. Because RCV uses a new method to identify who won, the process for releasing results in RCV races can be especially important to minimize confusion, to convey results in a way that gives people the information they need, and to ensure the outcome is trusted and understood.FairVote and the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center have analyzed results from hundreds of RCV contests. Based on that experience, we recommend the following tried and true tips:Release a preliminary round-by-round tally on Election NightContinue to release preliminary tallies as more votes are countedConduct vote total checks with each release of preliminary resultsPublish the full ballot record so that anyone can verify the result Make use of existing tools for visualizing RCV resultsClearly communicate expectations, timelines, and resultsFollowing these best practices – to the extent permitted by state law – can help instill public confidence in the electoral process and its outcome.

Ranked choice voting finds success in Utah in 2021

May 24, 2022

Voters in twenty Utah cities used ranked choice voting (RCV) for their local elections in 2021 as part of the state's RCV municipal pilot program. An additional three cities opted in to the pilot program but did not have enough declared candidates to need ranked ballots.Ranked choice ballots elected mayors and city councilors with broad support from the electorate, voters overwhelmingly chose to use the ranked ballot to express multiple preferences, voters reported that they liked using RCV, election integrity was upheld as results were confirmed in a recount, and state legislators have continued to express support for the program.

Ranked Choice Voting in 2021: A Year-End Review

January 22, 2022

A record 32 cities used Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for their elections in 2021, including 23 cities using RCV for the first time and nine veteran RCV cities. Two million voters cast ranked ballots across 141 elections. This report explores the nationwide growth of RCV in 2021, examines how RCV performed in practice in 32 cities, and considers where this reform is headed in the future.

Ranked Choice Voting in New York City: An In-Depth Analysis

January 18, 2022

This report examines the first citywide ranked choice voting (RCV) elections in New York City, conducted in June 2021. FairVote analyzed campaign activity, voter turnout, demographic trends, and cast vote records.We find that RCV helped elect the most diverse NYC government ever, voter turnout at its highest point in decades, voters in all demographic groups used rankings at a high rate, and RCV winners had broad consensus support from the voters. The report concludes with recommendations for best practices in future New York City RCV elections.

Ensuring more voters count in presidential primaries: Exploring the potential of ranked choice voting ballots

October 8, 2021

This report reviews an important aspect of the Democratic Presidential nomination process in 2020: the advantages of increasing early access to voting, and the unintended consequence it creates for some early voters losing the chance to cast an effective vote.This report lifts up the experience of state parties that avoided that problem by offering ranked choice voting (RCV) ballots. Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, and Wyoming successfully introduced RCV ballots for all voters, while Nevada used RCV ballots for early voting. This greatly increased the numbers of votes that counted toward candidates earning delegates. Implemented nationally, ranked choice voting ballots likely would have resulted in over four million more Democratic voters having a direct effect on the contest. The Democatic National Committee has an opportunity to support this innovation and ensure votes count in 2024 and beyond.