27 U.S.F. L. Rev. 779 (1992-1993)
The Single Transferable Vote: An Alternative Remedy for Minority Vote Dilution

handle is hein.journals/usflr27 and id is 791 raw text is: The Single Transferable Vote: An
Alternative Remedy for Minority Vote
Dilution
By RICHARD L. ENGSTROM*
THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE with election systems has been seri-
ously constrained by a narrow notion of how voters should be allowed
to express, through their ballots, their preferences among candidates.
With rare exception, American voters in this country are permitted to
cast as many votes as there are unfilled positions in any particular elec-
tion contest. However, they are restricted to casting only a single vote in
any given contest, without their vote designating any intensity or order of
preference among the candidates. This notion, which most Americans
accept uncritically, is far from a requisite for democratic elections. In-
deed, it is not the way the franchise is operated in most democratic
countries. I
The concept of casting a single vote per election contest has shaped
the framework for debate in the United States concerning the best way to
structure electoral competitions. As a consequence, electoral reform de-
bates have been confined to a very restricted range of election system
alternatives.2 These debates have focused on a very restricted range of
*  David Bruce Fellow, The David Bruce Centre for American Studies, University of
Keele, England, 1993. Research Professor of Political Science, University of New Orleans;
A.B., Hope College, 1968; M.A., 1969, Ph.D., 1971, University of Kentucky. The author
wishes to express his appreciation to Marcie A. Marty for her assistance with the analysis of
the Cincinnati elections reported in this article.
I. See generally REIN TAAGEPERA & MATTHEW S. SHUGART, SEATS AND VOTES:
THE EFFECTS AND DETERMINANTS OF ELECTORAL SYSTEMS (1989); ELECTORAL LAWS AND
THEIR POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES (Bernard Grofman & Arend Lijphart eds., 1986); DEMOC-
RACY AND ELECTIONS: ELECTORAL SYSTEMS AND THEIR POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES
(Vernon Bogdanor & David Butler eds., 1983).
2. Dominating these debates are issues like whether elections should be held in single-
member or multi-member (usually at-large) districts, and whether the winning candidate or
candidates should be determined by a simple plurality rule or by some minimum vote criterion.
Other subsidiary issues that are also considered include: whether districts should be required
to satisfy a particular population equality constraint and some standard of compactness, or
whether voting in multi-seat elections should be for separate places or posts, and perhaps
whether these places should be associated with geographical residency requirements for
candidates.

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