Alternative Voting Methodologies Study 2019-2021

Alternative Voting Methodologies Study 2019-2021

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LWVDE Alternative Voting Methodologies Study 2019-2021

The LWVDE membership approved a study on Alternative Voting Methodologies... alternatives to plurality voting, such as ranked-choice, approval, or range/score voting... at the annual state convention in June 2019. The study team, comprised of League members from all three Delaware counties, worked from July 2019 to April 2021 (minus a COVID-19 break from spring to fall of 2020), and produced the following documents:

On April 28, 2021, the LWVDE Board of Directors approved the following new action position for Delaware, to be reaffirmed by League membership at the LWVDE Convention in May 2021:


Voter Representation / Electoral Systems Position

Position in Brief:

Support electoral systems at each level of government that encourage participation, are verifiable and auditable and enhance representation for all voters.

Position in Full:

LWVDE promotes an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive. We encourage electoral methods that provide the broadest voter representation possible and are expressive of voter choices.  

Whether for single or multiple winner contests, the League supports electoral methods that:
      • Encourage voter participation and voter engagement
      • Encourage those with minority opinions to participate, including under-represented communities
      • Are secure, verifiable, and auditable
      • Promote access to voting
      • Maximize effective votes/minimize wasted votes
      • Promote sincere voting over strategic voting
      • Discourage negative campaigning
      • Implement alternatives to plurality voting
      • Are compatible with acceptable ballot-casting methods, including vote-by-mail

LWVDE believes in representative government. The League supports electoral systems that elect policy-making bodies–-legislatures, councils, commissions, and boards—that proportionally reflect the people they represent. We support systems that inhibit political manipulation (e.g. gerrymandering).

The League supports the implementation of Ranked-Choice Voting in elections for representation at all levels of Delaware government, including school board, municipal, county, state, and national, for both primary and general elections.

LWVDE supports enabling legislation to allow local jurisdictions to explore alternative electoral methods, as well as supporting state election laws allowing for more options at both the state and local levels. With the adoption of any electoral system, the League believes that education of the voting public is important and funding for startup and voter education should be available. We encourage a concerted voter education process.  
(Elements in the bold italic text are Delaware additions to the LWVUS position.)

Study Process

As part of their work, the Study team researched voting methodologies and existing studies by other state Leagues. We supported the New Castle County League in hosting UPenn Professor Emeritus Dr. Jack Nagel for a Hot Topic on ranked-choice voting in Sept 2019. We surveyed our membership regarding electoral system principles and provided input to the Delaware delegates to the LWVUS National Convention in summer 2020 regarding the proposed LWVUS Electoral Systems Concurrence position (which was subsequently adopted). The team also interviewed Delaware election stakeholders in several categories: 
      • Academic experts, including UD Political Science Chair Dr. David Redlawsk.
      • Municipal elections officials, most notably the Village of Arden, uses the ranked-choice "Hare method" to elect their Board of Assessors, and the cities of Dover, Newark, and Seaford.
      • Democratic and Republican Party leaders, up and down state.
      • Legislators from both parties in Delaware's General Assembly.
      • Delaware Department of Elections officials, including Commissioner Anthony Albence and former commissioner Elaine Manlove.
The interview detail notes remain "off the record," but these learnings are available to help guide potential ranked-choice voting implementations in Delaware. Contact Study Chair Kim Wells for more information.
The study team composition changed over time, but the following members were active at various points during the study:
      • New Castle County: Jill Itzkowitz (Co-Chair), Sally Barclay, Maren Bertelsen, Kristin Brownlee, Luann D’Agostino, Letty Diswood, Pat Dougherty, Alan Evantash, Doug Manley, Melody Taylor.
      • Kent County: Chris Asay, Kyra Hoffner, Sharon Morgan, Julie Price.
      • Sussex County: Connie Jones, Ann Freeman, Jack Young.
Please join Study Chair Kim Wells in thanking the team members for their time, enthusiasm, and dedication!
League to which this content belongs: