Proportional representation and election reform in Ohio

Front Cover
Ohio State University Press, 1995 - Political Science - 383 pages
The story of proportional representation in the United States is an important one for contemporary politics. The phrase proportional representation describes an electoral system that allows the majority to elect a majority of representatives while also enabling minority groups to win their fair share of seats on a city council or legislature. Although some think of proportional representation as an untried option, there were at one time twenty-two cities in the United States using proportional representation to elect their councils. Little is known about the experience of these cities, and this book seeks to fill that historical gap. Kathleen L. Barber locates the roots of proportional representation (PR) in the late eighteenth-century debate about how best to establish a modern democratic state. In the Progressive Era, proportional representation by single transferable vote (PR/STV) was promoted by American reformers as a tool for wresting power from corrupt party bosses and, at the same time, providing representation to partisan minorities and Independents. At the heart of this examination are case studies of five Ohio cities between 1915 and 1960 that elected their councils by PR/STV In Ashtabula, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Toledo, minorities were indeed successful in winning representation on city councils: Independents, African Americans, and ethnic minorities broke through their previous exclusion from seats at the council table. These results were not always welcome, however, and helped to make the electoral system controversial. But the increase in conflict and instability in governance predicted by opponents of PR did not appear. The book concludes with an analysis ofthe relevance of alternative electoral systems to Voting Rights Act cases and the contemporary "right to representation."

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The Roots of Proportional Representation
Proportional Representation as a Progressive Cause

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