Instant Runoff Voting (IRV)
Instant Runoff Voting: As Easy As 1-2-3!
Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is a an alternate voting system used by (among many other organizations) the Pacific Green Party of Oregon. In an election where there are more than two candidates, it is a significant improvement over the traditional “plurality” voting system. Here’s how it works:
1. Voters list their preferences
In this example, the voter casting the ballot at lower left likes
Akiko best, then Bob, then Carlos.
2. First choices are counted
If one candidate has a majority (over 50% of the votes), that
candidate wins! Otherwise, an “instant runoff” is the next step.
3. Ballots for the least popular candidate are redistributed
Since Bob had the fewest votes, each of his ballots is moved to the pile of the
candidate ranked second. This is the “instant runoff.” It’s just like a runoff, but there’s no
need to print ballots and vote again. In this example, Akiko now has
a majority, so she wins the election.
(If there are more than three candidates, additional instant runoffs can
Why is IRV a good idea?
IRV elects more popular candidates. In the example above, a standard
“most votes” election would have chosen Carlos even though most of
the voters thought he was the worst choice!
IRV eliminates the “spoiler” issue. Under IRV, the people who thought Bob was
best could vote for him without fear of “spoiling” Akiko’s chances.
IRV encourages positive campaigining. Candidates want to be ranked as
highly as possible on all the ballots. Attacking a minority becomes
To learn more about IRV, visit: FairVote