On March 14-15, the Program on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective at the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, held a workshop on electoral system alternatives in the United States. The workshop brought together a number of scholars of American electoral institutions, practitioners working to implement electoral reforms, and experts on electoral systems reforms in advanced democracies. The workshop examined how different electoral systems options have worked in other countries, and what the implications of similar reforms might be in the United States.
Among other things, the workshop asked:
- How might plurality elections in single-member districts in the United States skew democratic outcomes? Is there a relationship between the electoral system and the problems we see today, such as ideological and political polarization?
- What lessons might be drawn from reforms in other countries? Examples include the single-transferable vote (STV) in Ireland, the alternative vote (AV) in Australia, and mixed-member systems in Italy, Japan, and New Zealand;
- How might we go about reforming American electoral systems -- through local, state, or federal means, and through engagement with which types of political and civil service actors?
- How has ranked-choice voting (RCV) worked in local experiments in the United States, including in Minneapolis, MN; San Francisco, CA; Oakland, CA; and Cambridge, MA?
- How might electoral systems reforms interact with other proposed political reforms in the United States, including the National Popular Vote for the Electoral College, top-four primaries, and the adoption of redistricting commissions?