I am a political scientist with expertise in parties, elections, and alternative voting rules. I have taught courses in American, comparative, and urban politics. My work is published in American Politics Research, the National Municipal Review, Democracy & Society, The Monkey Cage blog, and LSE's American Politics & Policy blog.
My research has two tracks. One looks at voting system change in the United States. The other looks at public opinion about election administration.
Book project: Proportional Representation in American Cities
Ranked-choice voting is a popular idea, and its multi-winner form makes winning office easy. Americans once called this proportional representation via the single transferable vote — "PR" for short. How does PR get adopted? Under what conditions is it stable? We have 24 useful examples in our history.
From 1915-48, powerless groups used ballot initiatives to enact PR in their cities: junior major parties, incumbent-party factions that could not win primaries, and, less often, third parties. Then as now, the form of PR they promoted was radically candidate-based.
By 1962, PR was gone from all but one city. Groups that sought PR in the first place eventually sought its repeal. They did so to discipline legislative voting. Under PR, party loyalty sometimes suffered, and junior coalition partners sometimes switched sides. In cases like New York City, both factors led the largest minority party to collude in ending PR.
We often hear that ranked-choice voting would lessen polarization, increase bipartisanship, and permit the election of new kinds of people. In short, coalitions in government would be more fluid. This is possible but comes at a price. Big parties can move between coalitions with impunity, but when smaller parties do it — or when parties fracture altogether — the biggest parties try to repeal ranked-choice voting.
Finally, I give the first quantitative history of PR in American cities using newspapers, archival material, and newly digitized data from five large cities. The largest part of these data comes from three most-different cities that tap the US experience with PR: Cincinnati (1929-57); New York City (1937-47); and Worcester, Mass. (1949-61). That portion of the data includes 5,127 roll-call votes, 126 unique legislators, 1,011 rounds of vote-counting under the single transferable vote, 1,001 candidates, and their party affiliations over 25 elections (20 of which had party-free ballots).