In the United States
The first U.S. city to adopt choice voting for its city council was Ashtabula, Ohio in 1915. During the first half of the 20th century, choice voting spread rapidly as part of the progressive movement. At its peak, some two-dozen cities adopted choice voting, including Cincinatti, Cleveland, Boulder, Sacramento, and even New York City. New York City continued to use choice voting for its school board until 2002 when those school boards were abolished.
As the progressive era transitioned into a period characterized by racial tensions and fear of communism, choice voting became a victim of its own success. In Cincinnati, choice voting resulted in the election of two African American city council members into the 1950's. In 1951, African American attorney Theodore M. Berry won with the highest percent of the vote, which ordinarily would result in him becoming mayor. Instead, the city council chose one of the white councilmen to become mayor. Finally, Cincinnati repealed choice voting in 1957 in the fifth Republican-led repeal attempt. Following civil unrest stemming from racial tensions in the 1960's, the Kerner Commission cited the repeal of choice voting and its effect on African American representation as one cause of the city's violence.
Similarly, in New York City, choice voting cut off the stranglehold previously held by the Democratic Party in the city. In the last election before adoption of choice voting, Democrats won 99.5% of the seats on the Board of Alderman with only 66.5% of the vote. Under choice voting in 1941, Democrats won 65.5% of the seats with 64% of the vote, a much fairer result. However, choice voting also allowed minor parties some representation, including members of the Communist Party. During the Cold War, the Democratic Party took advantage of fears of communism to make a successful push for repeal of choice voting. Repealing choice voting successfully prevented the election of communists to the city council, along with members of all other minor parties, but it also brought back an era of unrepresentative elections to New York City.
Choice voting has a history of use in the United States and continues to be used in Cambridge, MA. The principal of proportionality is perhaps best known for its use in all Democratic presidential nomination contests and several Republican nomination contests. Proportional voting systems that are used in local legislative elections in the United States include choice voting (voters rank candidates, and seats are allocated by efficiently distributing voters preferences using a proportional formula), cumulative voting (voters cast as many votes as seats and can give multiple votes to one candidate), and limited voting (voters have fewer votes than seats).