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WITH IRV VOTING, DO I HAVE TO VOTE FOR MORE THAN ONE CANDIDATE?

IS IRV PRACTICAL?

DOES IRV FAVOR ONE PARTY OVER ANOTHER?

WHAT SHOULD THE MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES BE DOING ABOUT IRV?

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP THE CAUSE OF IRV?

SINCE REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS BOTH WIN RACES WITH ONLY MINORITY SUPPORT UNDER THE CURRENT SYSTEM, DOESN'T IT ALL BALANCE OUT?

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT IRV?


WITH IRV VOTING, DO I HAVE TO VOTE FOR MORE THAN ONE CANDIDATE?

It depends on exactly how the IRV voting system is implemented. In the most common implementation you only have to vote for a candidate in the first column, and indicating additional preferences in the remaining three columns is optional. In Australia, which uses IRV for all its elections, under the name Preferential Voting, this is called Optional Preferential Voting. We might call it Optional IRV Voting. Under this optional IRV voting, there is not a lot of point in a person voting for a Republican or Democratic candidate indicating additional preferences, as their first choice will almost certainly still be there in the final runoff count anyway. On the other hand, a Green or Reform voter needs to indicate at least one extra preference if they want their vote to count in the final runoff between the Democratic and Republican candidates. For instance, if a voter marks the Green candidate in the first column, and the Democratic candidate in the second column, and leaves the next two columns blank, then his or her vote will fully count as a Democrat vote in the final runoff count (and they will not waste their vote and be a Democratic "spoiler" as a Green Party voter does under the current plurality voting system).

IS IRV PRACTICAL?

Unlike abolishing the electoral college, which would require a constitutional amendment, Instant Runoff Voting can be brought in on a state-by-state basis, simply by passing ballot measures. The Republicans already have enough signatures in Alaska to place a measure to use IRV in Alaska on the 2002 ballot. The Democrats in New Mexico are likewise hoping to introduce IRV in that state. The introduction of IRV is very do-able, and no constitutional impediments stand in its way.

DOES IRV FAVOR ONE PARTY OVER ANOTHER?

No. Small parties benefit from it, but so do the major parties, as it prevents small party candidates becoming ‘spoilers’ and sabotaging the victory of the major party which has the majority of the support in the state. Republicans in Alaska like IRV because the Alaskan Independence Party split the conservative vote and this led to a Democratic governor being elected in a very conservative state.

Democrats in New Mexico like IRV because the Green Party has likewise split their vote. And, of course, the Green Party itself likes IRV -- to introduce it is a part of its platform. Every party will benefit, but most of all, the people will benefit, as it gives them more voting options without wasting their vote, and it makes sure the candidate who is elected is always the one the majority of people who voted want.

WHAT SHOULD THE MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES BE DOING ABOUT IRV?

Since Al Gore and the Democrats just lost a presidential election they would have won with IRV, they should be strongly in favor of it.

Since a small conservative party such as the Reform Party could split their otherwise winning vote in the future (as may well have happened when Clinton won in 1992), the Republican Party should also press for the introduction of IRV.

Since Ralph Nader came under such intense criticism for being a spoiler in the 2000 election -- which, with the current plurality voting system he was! -- then he, along with the Green Party, should be redirecting his efforts toward promoting IRV, and cease running against candidates who actively promote IRV until such time as IRV is implemented in the state in question. This would inoculate him against the charge of being a spoiler, and help his long term prospects.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP THE CAUSE OF IRV?

Go to the Center for Voting and Democracy web site: fairvote.org - and learn more about it.

Write to your local members and senators and point out its advantages. IRV is a somewhat complex idea; and educating people about it is an essential precursor to its introduction. If you belong to a political party, promote it to your local branch.

In the cause of educating people about IRV, talk to your friends about it, e-mail other acquaintances about it, and write letters about it to the editors of local papers.

Join, or start, a group in your state to promote IRV. Help sponsor a ballot initiative in your state to introduce IRV. Help get as many signatures as possible for measures to introduce IRV, to make sure they get on that ballot. If an IRV measure gets on the ballot in your state, support it and publicize it in any way you can.

SINCE REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS BOTH WIN RACES WITH ONLY MINORITY SUPPORT UNDER THE CURRENT SYSTEM, DOESN'T IT ALL BALANCE OUT?

Parties are better off winning the races where they have majority support, so they have public opinion behind them as they implement their agenda.

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT IRV?

Here are some websites about IRV and other voting reform initiatives. (These websites will open in new browser window.)

Fairvote.org

The Center for Voting and Democracy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Takoma Park, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

Instant Runoff.com

InstantRunoff.com was created and is managed by the Midwest Democracy Center, a Chicago-based non-profit organization dedicated to making our government more democratic and representative.

Californians for Proportional Representation

CPR's primary purpose is to promote and work toward the implementation of Proportional Representation at all levels of governmental and even non-governmental bodies, and often works with the Center for Voting and Democracy (CVD), a national organization with similar aims.