Legal Analysis of Alternative Single Winner Election Methods

by Jessica Heller, Rob Richie // Published July 25, 2012


The plurality voting system used in most American elections can have the perverse result of electing a candidate who is disfavored by a majority of the electorate.  FairVote advocates exploring alternative voting methods that promote majority rule and voter choice in single winner elections.  Some of these alternative voting methods have been used in various cities and countries, and have therefore been subject to review by state and federal courts; others have never been employed in governmental elections.  This report discusses the legal history of those methods already reviewed by the courts to analyze the potential political and legal barriers to implementing several different voting methods, including: instant runoff voting, Bucklin voting, range voting, approval voting, Borda count voting, and Condorcet voting.