Ranked-Choice Voting Leads to Lower Turnout, Professor McDaniel's Research Finds

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

POLITICO -- But in the U.S., at least, the benefits of the system haven’t been as clear as proponents might have hoped. Jason McDaniel, a political scientist at San Francisco State University, has analyzed the returns of that city’s municipal elections, where ranked choice has been used since 2002. He found the system increased the prevalence of spoiled ballots, particularly in areas where more African-American, Latino, elderly, foreign-born and less affluent people live, and that the problem didn’t go away over time. Voter turnout rates were also reduced for infrequent voters, even as it increased among the highly educated.

“The ranking process is cognitively more difficult than just choosing one candidate, and that seems to drive a decline in turnout,” McDaniel says.