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We Need Instant Runoff Voting

June 30, 2016

school_1Wouldn't you like to vote FOR someone for a change, instead of picking the lesser of two evils? 

One thing we can do to open up the political process is enact Instant Runoff Voting (also called Ranked Choice Voting).



Helpful links:


Most of our elections are based on the concept that the person with most number of votes wins. This only works well when there are just two candidates in the race. When a third option is introduced, someone can actually win with only 34% of the vote, or a “plurality”.

Advantages of IRV:

• Someone always wins with a majority

• It eliminates the “wasted vote syndrome” or the perceived pressure to vote for the lesser of two evils

IRV is no different than holding a runoff election, but it eliminates the wasted time and expense of getting everyone together again at the polls.

We use it internally for the election of officers in the JAL and it works well.


How it works:

It’s as simple as ranking your preferences 1,2 and 3. Let’s look at the example of Bill, Steve, and Judy as candidates in a race with 17 voters.

A sample ballot would look like this:


Note: Only one check is allowed per column; Votes for 2nd or 3rd choices are not required.

Results of the first counting:


In plurality voting, Bill would have won, without a majority! But… In Instant Runoff Voting, if there is no majority on the first counting, the candidate with the least number of votes (Judy) is eliminated for the second counting, and those people who voted for Judy as their first choice would have their vote shift to their second choice for the second counting:


In the second counting, Steve wins fair and square with a majority.

IRV works no matter how many candidates are in the race. Even with ten options on the ballot, the iterative countings continue until there is a clear winner with a majority.

What to do:

  • Spread the word about IRV
  • Support organizations that educate people about IRV
  • Tell your elected representatives to implement IRV!





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