As currently interpreted, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”) can be a double-edged sword for minority representation. Although it gives protected minority groups their own majority/minority districts, this can dilute minority influence in other districts. Recently, however, many jurisdictions have begun to adopt Instant Runoff Voting (“IRV”), a ranked-choice voting system where voters rank multiple candidates in order of preference. By letting voters express support for multiple candidates, IRV provides useful information about the behavior of minority groups that courts can use when enforcing the VRA. Specifically, ranked-choice voting systems can better show when a winning candidate supported by a multi-racial coalition was preferred by members of one racial group. Courts can use this information in redistricting cases to help minority groups elect their preferred candidates—even when the minority group does so as part of a multi-racial coalition, in a district where minorities are less than a majority of the voting population. These “crossover” districts, enabled by IRV, help the VRA accomplish its goal of ensuring that minority voters can “elect representatives of their choice.”
Menter, Aviel and Evans, C.D. Alexander
"Multiple Choice: How Instant Runoff Voting Improves Redistricting Under the Voting Rights Act,"
Touro Law Review: Vol. 38:
3, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.tourolaw.edu/lawreview/vol38/iss3/4