Most of us, at one time or another, are frustrated with our electoral process and the choices we have for candidates who can legitimately win the election. Do we actually get the best candidates for the job?
Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), is drawing a lot of interest. It is a form of preferential voting (or ranked choice voting) in which voters rank the candidates in order of preference, and their ballots are counted as one vote for their first choice candidate. If a candidate secures a majority of votes cast, that candidate wins. Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Ballots assigned to eliminated candidates are recounted and assigned to one of the remaining candidates based on the next highest preference on each ballot. The process repeats until one candidate achieves a majority of votes cast for continuing candidates.
Can IRV give us better democracy? Are there other voting systems that would be even better? Should we change the voting system we use in our local elections? Join us for a rousing discussion.
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Graphic example of IRV if used in Florida 2000 presidential election
In the Florida 2000 presidential election there were two “spoilers”: Patrick Buchanan and Ralph Nader. The results, as we all know, were very close and under the current system, the candidate with the highest total votes won. This effectively meant that those who voted for Buchanan or Nader had effectively “wasted” their votes or, worse if you voted for Nader, caused your likely second choice, Gore, to lose. Under IRV, the voters who voted for Buchanan or Nader would still have had their votes counted in the instant runoff. Here is a graphic showing how IRV would have worked in that election.