There are two forms of Ranked Choice Voting: one for electing a single candidate, used for offices like governor, senator, or mayor; and another for electing multiple candidates at once, which Cambridge uses to elect its city council and school committee. Since nearly all elected offices in Massachusetts are single-seat, including all state and federal offices, our work has centered on the single-winner form.
Known in Cambridge as "proportional representation," multi-winner RCV offers the same voter experience as single-winner RCV: just rank your candidates in order of preference. As Cambridge voters have seen first hand, using RCV for multi-seat offices provides representation for minority voices while still guaranteeing that a majority of voters elect a majority of seats. Compared to cities of similar demographics, Cambridge boasts higher voter turnout and greater diversity in whom they elect. Under Cambridge’s RCV system, an astonishing 92% of voters see their first or second choice elected, while more than 95% see their first, second, or third choice elected.
Multi-winner RCV is used in in legislative elections around the world, and historically, has been used in many cities around the US, including several in Massachusetts. Today, with vote-counting computerized and urban populations more diverse than ever, US cities should consider multi-winner RCV to provide diverse representation to their city councils, school committees, and other governing bodies.
FairVote: Spotlight Cambridge
Cambridge, Massachusetts Elections a Model for America
The Effect of Fair Representation on the 2013 Cambridge, Massachusetts Municipal Election