Proportional systems increase opportunities for minority or disadvantaged groups (racial, ethnic, class, gender, sexual orientation and religious)—as do larger district magnitudes. This is also true of minority/third parties. PR systems make ideological microcosms of their electorate, creating a multiparty democracy that hinders extremist ambitions.

Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) systems, like Single Transferable Votes (STV), provide for the proportional translation of voter preferences—including for minority candidates with thinly dispersed supports—and don’t risk wasted votes. They also reduce negative campaigning and encourage areas of agreement. The large, multimember districts are less susceptible to the influence of candidate funds and lobbyists. RCV also doesn’t waste votes, which raises voter satisfaction.

Semi-proportional systems (such as Cumulative Voting) provide greater opportunities for the election of women and minority candidates than winner-take-all systems. These tend to facilitate more bipartisanship that winner-take-all systems. While semi-proportional systems are  less effective at proportional third party outcomes than STV, they are better at proportional results than winner-take-all. CV’s large, multimember districts are less susceptible to the influence of candidate funds, lobbyists, and gerrymandering. Cumulative Voting (CV) allows minority candidates to overcome geographic dispersal, but is susceptible to wasted votes/the spoiler effect (requires minority voters to vote strategically instead of simply with their desires).

Winner-Take-All systems (like First Past The Post, or FPTP, and IRV) obstruct female and ethnic minority representation, amplified by majority-minority districting, and severely underrepresents minority/third parties. FPTP can exacerbate class divisions in jurisdictions where they are geographically segregated. Winner-Take-All also leads to a government that oscillates between policy extremes, leaving leaders and workers unable to plan for the future while costing taxpayers more to go through routine set-up, reform, and closure of services. Jurisdictions are also vulnerable to manipulation through lobbying and campaign funds. Electoral boundaries can also be drawn to distort the translation of votes. Votes cast can also be wasted, which leads to dissatisfaction and often requires strategic voting. FPTP can be particularly favourable to extremists because candidates only need a plurality rather than a majority.

Citations and Additional Readings

Amy, Douglas. (1993) Real Choices/New Voices: The Case for PR Elections in the United States, Columbia University Press: New York

Banducci, Susan, A., Donovan, Todd., and Karp, Jeffrey, A. (1999) ‘Proportional representation and attitudes about politics: results from New Zealand’, Electoral Studies vol:18, p.533-555

Blais, Andre. (1990) ‘Does proportional representation foster voter turnout?’, European Journal of Political Research vol:18, p.167-181

Bowler, Shaun & Farrell, David. (1993) ‘Legislator Shirking and Voter Monitoring: Impacts of European Parliament Electoral Systems Upon Legislator-Voter Relationships’, Journal of Common Market Studies, vol:31, p.45-69

Bowler, Shaun., Brockington, David., and Donovan Todd. (2001) ‘Election Systems and Voter Turnout: Experiments in the United States’, The Journal of Politics, vol:63(3), p.902-915

Bowler, Shaun., Brischetto, Robert., Brockington, David., & Donovan, Todd. (1998) ‘Minority Representation under Cumulative and Limited Voting’, The Journal of Politics, vol:60(4), p.1108-1125

Bowler, Shaun., Heerde, Jennifer, V., & Donovan, Todd. (2005) ‘The United States of America: Perpetual Campaigning in the Absence of Competition’, in Gallagher, Michael and Mitchell, Paul, The Politics of Electoral Systems, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p.185-205

Carstarphen, Dana, R. (1991) ‘Current Topics in Law and Policy – The Single Transferable Vote: Achieving the Goals of Section 2 without Sacrificing the Integration Ideal’, Yale Law & Policy Review vol:9, p.405-429

Copeland, Conrad, E. (2010) ‘Effects of the Single Transferable Vote on Political Parties and Divided Societies’, Australian Quarterly vol:82(1), p.27-31

Donovan, Todd. (2014) Candidate Perceptions of Campaigns under Preferential and Plurality Voting, Paper prepared for the workshop on Electoral Systems, Electoral Reform, and Implications for Democratic Performance at Stanford University, March 14-15, p.1-20 viewed on the 23rd of January 2023 at

Duncan, Matthew, K. (2017) ‘Democracy Down Under: A Comparative Look at Australian and American Electoral Systems’, Indiana International & Comparative Law Review, vol:27(117), p.117-146

Engstrom, Richard, L. (2010) ‘Cumulative and Limited Voting: Minority Electoral Opportunities and More’, Saint Louis University Public Law Review vol:30(1), p.97-138

Engstrom, Richard, L. & Brischetto, Robert, R. (1998) ‘Is Cumulative Voting Too Complex? Evidence From Exit Polls’, Stetson Law Review, vol:27, p.813-834

Ezrow, Lawrence. (2008) ‘Parties’ Policy Programmes and the Dog that Didn’t Bark: No Evidence that Proportional Systems Promote Extreme Party Positioning’, British Journal of Political Science vol:38, p.479-497

Farrell, David, M., & McAllister, Ian. (2004) ‘Voter Satisfaction and Electoral Systems: Does Preferential Voting in Candidate-Centered Systems Make A Difference’, Center for the Study of Democracy: An Organized Research Unit, University of California, Irvine, p.1-22

Farrell, David & McAllister, Ian. (2006) ‘Voter Satisfaction and Electoral Systems: Does Preferential Voting in Candidate-centered Systems Make a Difference?’, European Journal of Political Research, vol:45(5), p.723-749

Farrell, David & Scully, Roger. (2003) ‘Electoral Reform and the British MEP’, Journal of Legislative Studies, vol:9, p.14-37

Hallett, George. (1984) ‘Proportional Representation with the Single Transferable Vote: A Basic Requirement for Legislative Electio’s’, in Lijphart, Arend & Grofman, Bernard (eds). Choosing an Electoral System: Issues and Alternatives, Westport Connecticut: Praeger

Horowitz, Donald, L. (2003) ‘Electoral Systems: A Primer for Decision Makers’, Journal of Democracy, vol:14(4), p.115-127

Lakeman, Enid. (1974) How Democracies Vote: A Study of Majority and Proportional Electoral Systems (4th Edition) London: Faber and Faber

Levine, Sam. (2022) ‘America faces greater division as parties draw safe seats for congressional districts’, The Guardian, viewed 1st of February 2023,

Lijphart, Arend. (1995) Testimony Before the California State Legislature. California State Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Sacramento, CA. March 8

Lijphart, Arend & Grofman, Bernard. (1984) Choosing an Electoral System: Issues and Alternatives, General Editor: Pomper, Gerald, M., Praeger, New York

Loenen, Nick. (1997) Citizenship and Democracy: A Case for Proportional Representation, Dundrun Press: Toronto

Low-Beer, John, R. (1984) ‘The Constitutional Imperative of Proportional Representation’, The Yale Law Journal vol:94(163), p.163-188

Matland, Richard, E. (1993) ‘Institutional Variables Affecting Female Representation in National Legislatures: The Case bof Norway’, Journal of Politics, vol:55, p.737-755

Matland, Richard, E & Taylor, Michelle, M. (1997) ‘Electoral System Effects on Women’s Representation: Theoretical Arguments and Evidence from Costa Rica’, Comparative Political Studies, vol:30, p.186-210

Marsh, Michael. (2000). ‘Candidate centred but party wrapped: campaigning in Ireland under STV’, Department of Political Science, Trinity College, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Ortner, Juan. (2017) ‘A Theory of Political Gridlock’, Theoretical Economics, vol:12, p.555-586

Pearse, Hilary. (2005) ‘MPs as Constituency Representatives: Geographic Representation and Electoral Reform’, Canadian Parliamentary Review, p.26-32

Pildes, Richard, H. & Donoghue, Kristen, A. (1995) ‘Cumulative Voting in the United States’, University of Chicago Legal Forum vol:1995(1), Article 10, p.241-313

Reilly, Benjamin. (2001) Democracy in Divided Societies: Electoral Engineering for Conflict Management, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Reilly, Benjamin (2002) ‘Electoral Systems for Divided Societies’, Journal of Democracy, vol:13(2), p.156-170

Reilly, Benjamin. (2016) ‘Democratic Design and Democratic Reform: The Case of Australia’, Taiwan Journal of Democracy, vol:12(2), p.1-16

Reynolds, Andrew. (1999) Electoral Systems and Democratization in Southern Africa, Oxford University Press: Oxford

Ritchie, Robert. & Hill, Steven. (1996) ‘The case for proportional representation’, Social Policy, vol:26(4), p.25-30

Schwindt-Bayer, Leslie, A., Malecki, Michael., & Crisp, Brian, F. (2010) ‘Candidate Gender and Electoral Success in Single Transferable Vote Systems’, British Journal of Political Science, vol:40, Cambridge University Press, p.693-709

Straw, Ed. (2015) ‘As well as being a democratic outrage, First Past the Post also has additional unseen consequences’, Democratic Audit, viewed 26th of January 2023,

White, Timothy, J. (2006) ‘Why So Few Women in Dail Eireann? The Effects of the Single Transferable Vote Election System’, New Hibernia Review vol:10(4), p.71-83

Zecca, John, A. (1993) ‘Avoiding Elective Dictatorship in the United Kingdom: Debate on Constitutional and Electoral Reform through Proportional Representation’, Hastings International and Comparative Law Review, vol:16(3), p.425-460

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