Multi-seat Districts and Larger Assemblies Produce More Diverse Racial Representation
13 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2021 Last revised: 28 Aug 2021
Date Written: August 25, 2021
This study considers the relationship between three key components of electoral systems and racial representation in legislative office. Recent scholarship in comparative politics has shown that these components — the number of seats being contested per district (district magnitude), the size of an assembly or council, and the rules that allocate seats from votes (electoral formula) — are jointly predictive of the number of political parties that contest and win seats in national legislatures. To test how well these institutions can account for racial representation as well, we examine election results from 159 ethno-racially diverse cities in 13 U.S. states and three more countries (Australia, Ireland, and the Netherlands) from 2010 – 2019. We find that larger assembly sizes and district magnitudes are associated, both separately and jointly, with larger numbers of parties seating candidates of color. Our results suggest that these basic electoral system features should figure more prominently into U.S. debates about electoral reform.
Keywords: electoral systems, voting rights, minority representation, reform
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