McKenna Donegan, a junior Political Science major and Pre-Law certificate student, recently had an article she wrote featured in Ms. Magazine. Her piece “Ranked Choice Voting Would Help Women Candidates in New York City- and Across the Country” delves into the research-based impacts that a ranked-choice vote election could have for candidates. Through her current participation in American University’s Washington Semester Program as an intern for RepresentWomen, McKenna has been researching the structural reform.
RepresentWomen is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research hub that works to increase women’s representation in elected office and advocates for systemic reforms to the recruitment process, voting systems, and legislative practices. Since September, McKenna has been in Washington D.C interning and familiarizing herself with past research that the advocacy group has produced. “On Monday, November 4th, I was asked by my supervisor Courtney Lamendola and RepresentWomen Executive Director Cynthia Richie Terrell to write a short article about ranked-choice voting and how it helps women candidates, because the next day, New York City was voting on whether or not to adopt the measure” McKenna explained.
With only a day before NYC voters would start arriving at the polls, McKenna quickly got to work. After leaving her internship that day, McKenna received an email from her supervisor stating that she thought the article was great and that she wanted to send it in to Ms. Magazine for publication. On November 5th, the same day that 73% of NYC voters said “Yes” to bringing ranked-choice voting to various elections, McKenna’s article was published.
McKenna shared that what helped her most in composing her piece was a study done by RepresentWomen in 2016 that focused on women and people of color running for office in the California Bay Area after implementing ranked-choice voting. “This study was very helpful when I was writing the article because it showed that after the implementation of RCV, the California Bay Area saw an increase in the number of women and people of color running and winning local elective office.” In her article, McKenna further explains this shift, writing that “…the percentage of candidates of color for local elective office increased by 5 percentage points after the implementation of ranked-choice voting. To put this into perspective, neighboring cities that had not implemented RCV only saw a 0.3 percent increase in the number of candidates of color who ran for local elected office.”
In reference to the publication of her piece and her research internship, McKenna expressed that “It was a great experience and one that I would have never had if it weren’t for the (American University’s) Washington Semester Program.” McKenna’s full article in Ms. Magazine can be found here. Congratulations on this awesome accomplishment, McKenna!