Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) isn't new to Ohio. RCV was used in five Ohio cities (Cleveland, Ashtabula, Toledo, Hamilton, and Cincinnati) between 1913 and 1960 before it became a victim of its own success – RCV led to more accurate representation for women and people of color, as well as a greater diversity of ideologies, before corrupt party bosses aligned with racist groups to repeal it.

Cleveland started using RCV for single-member ward seats in 1913 – then called the "preferential ballot" like in Australia, where RCV has been used since 1918. In 1915, Ashtabula became the first city in America to use RCV with multi-member districts to achieve proportional representation. Good governance groups like the League of Women Voters helped expand RCV to other cities. Cleveland's first women councilmembers were elected with RCV, as were the first Black councilmembers in Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Toledo. In Cincinnati, Ted Berry rose to prominence as a councilman under RCV, but party bosses and the KKK conspired to repeal RCV in attempt to stop Berry from becoming Cincinnati's first Black mayor. RCV was ahead of its time then, but Ohio can bring back RCV to achieve fair and responsive representation.


Ted Berry was elected to Cincinnati City Council under RCV, but his popularity led to racial backlash repealing RCV. He remained a lifelong supporter of RCV.Ted Berry was elected to Cincinnati City Council under RCV, but his popularity led to racial backlash repealing RCV. He remained a lifelong supporter of RCV.

 

 

 

Marie Wing, an independent reform candidate, was one of the first women elected to Cleveland City Council under RCV. Marie Wing, an independent reform candidate, was one of the first women elected to Cleveland City Council. No woman had ever been elected in Cleveland before RCV. Eight women were elected over the course of just five elections that used RCV. After repeal, no women were elected for 18 years.

 

 

 

James B. Simmons Jr. was the first African American elected to Toledo City Council.

 

James B. Simmons Jr. was the first African American elected to Toledo City Council. He and Toledo's Black community were some of the strongest supporters of RCV and proportional representation until RCV was repealed.

 

 

 

You can learn more about the history of RCV in Ohio from:

FairVote: The Forgotten Results and Future Promise of Ranked Choice Voting in Ohio

Sightline: How Proportional Representation Gave American Voters Meaningful Representation in the 1900s

FairVote: Remembering the Legacy of Ted Berry

Ohio Libraries: Proportional Representation and Election Reform in Ohio by Kathleen L. Barber

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