Instant Runoff Voting
What is IRV?
Instant runoff voting (IRV) is a way of electing a single winner among a field of three or more candidates instead of allowing a candidate to win a race without the majority of the votes. IRV more accurately reflects popular opinion.
How does IRV work?
IRV requires voters to vote for every candidate by ranking them (1,2,3, etc.). If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is removed. The ballots assigned to that candidate are then recounted and go to the candidate marked "2." This process continues until a single candidate secures a majority of support. Click here to watch a video demonstration.
Why support IRV?
- IRV encourages positive, issue-based campaigns. Negative campaigning would be reduced significantly because candidates would know that they may have to obtain the second and third choice votes of voters supporting other candidates in order to be elected.
- IRV allows more third party candidates to be on the ballot because people will not be “wasting” their vote; instead, their second and third place votes will be counted eventually as well.
- IRV saves money because the runoffs that are usually held after the initial voting day are all taken care of on Election Day.
- IRV decreases the number of people splitting their votes for different, yet similar candidates, thus allowing one to win with only a minority of the vote.
- More voters will be encouraged to go to the polls to vote because each and every vote matters (if your first choice candidate is defeated, your second choice candidate's vote will count in the second round).
Are there hurdles to implementation?
The older voting equipment made IRV a long, tiring process, but with the new modern voting equipment and abundance of political parties and candidates, IRV is becoming much easier to implement.
Where has it worked?
IRV is currently being used in Ireland for its presidential election, in Australia to elect its House of Representatives, and in the American Political Science Association to elect its president. In Cambridge, MA, they use a variant of IRV to elect their city council, and many other companies and student governments utilize IRV for their election processes.