Research shows that ranked choice voting is liked and understood in the communities where it is used. In Oakland and San Francisco, for example, more than 99% of voters cast valid ballots, fewer people now skip city races, and winners earn more votes than with their previous system.
In 2013 and 2014, the Rutgers-Eagleton poll conducted a study surveying likely voters in seven RCV cities and 14 control cities. Result and methodology of this study are found here and here. In RCV cities, 89% of those surveyed found RCV ballots easy to understand. Understanding of RCV was comparable to understanding of plurality voting. In the 11 survey cities in California (four with RCV and seven control cities), more voters reported understanding ranked choice voting than California's top two primary runoff system. Clear majorities of voters also supported keeping their ranked choice voting system in all seven RCV cities.
Studies of voters in ranked choice voting cities demonstrate that voters report more positive campaigning and more satisfaction with their elections when compared to voters in cities that still use traditional plurality voting. The Rutgers-Eagleton poll cited above delved into several questions about campaign tone and civility. FairVote provides an excellent round-up of this and more research related to civility under ranked choice voting.
Inclusion of Women and People of Color
The use of ranked choice voting is correlated with more women and people of color running for and winning elected office. See summary sheet and full study of a landmark study conducted in ranked choice voting cities in the Bay Area of California and compared with similar cities that still use traditional plurality voting.
History in Massachusetts and the United States
In the past, Massachusetts has stood as a national leader in its use of ranked choice voting in many of our cities, including Cambridge, Lowell, Medford, Quincy, Revere, Saugus, and Worcester. The purpose of these implementations was to ensure minority voices were more accurately represented in local government. Read our report on the history of ranked choice voting in Massachusetts. The adoption of this reform throughout the Commonwealth was a microcosm of Progressive-era improvements to democratic governance which occurred throughout the United States, as researched and published by Professor Douglas Amy of Mount Holyoke College. Read Dr. Amy's history of RCV in the United States.
National group FairVote has an excellent collection of research about ranked choice voting. Our organization is happy to answer questions about ranked choice voting. Visit our FAQ page, or email us any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.