The Electoral Success of Women under Full Representation in America
By and large, female candidates have fared quite well with alternative voting. In 1987, 14 (43.3 percent) of the 32 jurisdictions that use alternative voting today had no women serving on the governing bodies. Since 1988, only two governing bodies, the Chilton County Commission and the town of Lowndesboro, have not elected any women to their governing bodies at least once between 1988 and 1996.

In these 32 jurisdictions, the number of female elected officials grew from a low of 25 in 1987 (prior to alternative voting) to a high of 49 in 1992 (after alternative voting.) Between 1988 and 1998 women were elected to a majority of the council seats in at least five of the municipalities that use alternative voting.

Two women were elected to the Chilton County School Board in 1988. The same thing happened in Calhoun County. Each county has a seven-member board. Chilton County elects by cumulative voting, and Calhoun County elects its board members by a pure at-large system.

Women appear to run for office more frequently in alternative voting jurisdictions. Although female candidates weren’t interviewed, I attribute this increase in part to the elimination of the numbered posts and the majority win feature, because as a practical matter women were no longer seen as competing against men or incumbents per se. Moreover, I see the system as giving women an excellent opportunity to organize themselves locally and plump their votes for a female candidate of their choice.

By Jerome Gray
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