American Government and Politics

Examining the Effects of Electoral Systems on Minority Representation in U.S. City Councils Using a Large Sample



In recent decades, reform movements have lobbied to remove at-large elections from local governing bodies and replace them with elections by district—in which a city’s electorate is divided into geographic regions that each elect their own council member. Prior social science research has somewhat concluded that in most cases, district elections more reliably elect non- white city councilors than at-large elections. However, these studies are limited by their use of small samples of municipalities, usually only the largest ones (pop. > 25,000) or those from a single state. I hope to overcome this limitation by employing a massive sample of more than 15,000 municipal governments across 49 states. My findings are consistent with and build upon previous research in that I conclude that as the proportion of non-white residents within a city’s population increases, district elections are predicted to elect higher proportions of non-white council members than wholly at-large elections.


Thumbnail image of GB_Writing Sample.pdf


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