This article examines three approaches - rational choice, historical-comparative and institutional - used to study the politics of electoral reform. The first part is dedicated to a review of explanations for stability of electoral systems while the second part looks at the analysis of the causes for electoral reform. This examination of the literature reveals that rational choice is especially beneficial when explaining the stability of electoral systems, whereas the rare occurrence of significant electoral reform in established democracies is better understood using the more detailed historical-comparative approach. The institutional approach can be seen as an important supplement to both other approaches. The general lesson - and one that might apply beyond the study of the politics of reform - is that it is beneficial to employ a combination of approaches rather than to stick to a single one.