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HF3909. Alternative Voting Systems. IRV – TYPICAL BALLOT. The voter is presented with a list of all candidates and given the option of specifying his or her order of preference for candidates. The voter may choose to give just a first preference. First Choice. Second Choice.

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Alternative Voting Systems

irv typical ballot


The voter is presented with a list of all candidates

and given the option of specifying his or her

order of preference for candidates.

The voter may choose to give just a first preference.

First Choice

Second Choice

Austin Currie

Brian Lenihan Mary Robinson



1st choice

Austin Currie

Brian Lenihan

Mary Robinson


267,902 (17%)

694,484 (44.1%)

612,265 (38.9%)


how it was counted
How It Was Counted
  • No candidate had a majority of first choices.
  • So the bottom candidate, Austin Currie, was eliminated.
  • If you voted for Austin Currie, your vote then then went to your second choice.
  • If you voted for Brian Lenihan or Mary Robinson, your vote stayed with that candidate. Your second choice only counts if your first choice is eliminated.

2nd Choice of Currie voters


1st Choice

Final Total

Austin Currie

Brian Lenihan

Mary Robinson

No 2nd choice

267,902 (17%) --------- ---------

694,484 (44.1%) + 36,789 731,273 (46.4%)

612,265 (38.9%) +205,565 817,830 (51.9%)

25,548 25,548 (1.6%)

benefits of irv in nonpartisan elections
Benefits of IRV in Nonpartisan Elections
  • Voter Expression
  • Majority Rule
  • Efficiency and Economy
  • Shorter campaigns
  • Higher turnout than separate elections
  • Retain odd year elections
purpose of voting
Purpose of Voting
  • Measure the will of the public
  • Provide a mechanism to select leaders
  • Encourage the involvement of citizens
criteria to value voting systems
Criteria to Value Voting Systems
  • Stability
  • Accountability
  • Deliberation
  • Participation (turnout)
criteria for leadership
Criteria for Leadership
  • Intensity of Support—how strong voters feel
  • Breadth of support—how acceptable a candidate may be
intensity and breadth
Intensity and Breadth
  • The plurality system would measure intensity of support, if voters voted sincerely. But because of the spoiler issue, they often vote strategically, so true feeling is not measured.
intensity and breadth1
Intensity and Breadth
  • Breadth of support is best measured by the condorcet (ranked pairs) method voting.
  • The most acceptable may not be the strongest leader. A candidate could win under condorcet, simply by being inoffensive.
intensity and breadth2
Intensity and Breadth
  • IRV combines intensity and breadth. A candidate must have enough 1st choices to stay in the race, but ultimately must be at least grudgingly accepted by a majority of voters.
school board elections new law 2003
School Board ElectionsNew Law 2003
  • The Minnesota legislature passed a law in 2003 that requires school districts to conduct primaries if there are more than two candidates for any position. Minnesota Statutes 205A.03.
effect of the new law
Effect of the New Law
  • Many school districts in Minnesota were required to conduct a primary as a consequence. In Robbinsdale, New Richland, and St. Cloud, there were nine candidates for four positions; therefore, the primary only eliminated one candidate of nine.
  • The law mostly affects school districts who have odd year elections that are not in conjunction with a city election. School districts that have even year elections can “piggyback” a primary with the state and national elections that are always held.
  • For a typical school district, a primary can add between $10,000 to $50,000 in the year that the primary is held—more for large districts like Minneapolis or St. Paul.
importance of majority rule
Importance of Majority Rule
  • Rep. Jim Knoblach (House author of the bill), May 5, 2003:

“When we are spending tens of millions of dollars, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars to our school districts, I think it’s in our best interests to make sure that the people who get elected are the people who have the majority vote and who have the legitimacy to be able to govern and use that money wisely.”

an option to consider
An Option to Consider
  • You can obtain a representative school board in one election by using ranked voting processes.
nonpartisan primaries pros and cons
  • In partisan elections, primaries are used to nominate the candidates from each political party.
  • In nonpartisan elections, primaries are used to reduce the number of candidates for the general election.
nonpartisan primaries pros

With an Instant Runoff, primaries could be eliminated. Benefits:

  • Cost savings for government.
  • Potentially shorter, less expensive campaigns.
  • Candidates are elected with the highest turnout. (Primaries often have low turnout.)
nonpartisan primaries cons

With an Instant Runoff, primaries could be eliminated. Benefits to keeping the primary:

  • Reducing the number of candidates helps voters focus.
  • It is argued that primaries are attended by the better informed voters, thus simplifying the task for the others.
  • Reduces expense for candidates, since some will campaign only through the primary.
  • Extending the political season is a good thing. Allows for more time to digest the candidates and issues.
mccl opposition
  • The Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life have opposed ranked voting, even on a local level. They report to their members that a candidate or legislator who believes that municipalities should have the right to choose ranked voting are less pro-life than those who oppose ranked voting.
mccl opposition1
  • The two most pro-life countries in the western world are Ireland and Malta, both of which use ranked voting.
mccl 2004 issues update
  • “Proponents of instant run-off voting claim that the system is needed because we must avoid allowing candidates to be elected to office with less than 50% of the vote. Additionally, they believe that it would allow people to more freely “vote their conscience” and would avoid having “spoiler” candidates (such as was said about Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential race).”
mccl 2004 issues update1
  • “MCCL believes that voting is a privilege and that it should be taken very seriously. We believe citizens can, and do, look at all aspects of voting for candidates before casting their vote. Our nation was founded by leaders who believed that citizens could be trusted to make knowledgeable decisions regarding candidates and the election process was set up to convey that trust. We don’t believe that the issues addressed by instant run-off voting are problems and therefore see no reason to completely change our method of voting. For this reason, MCCL opposes instant run-off voting.”
mccl questionaire aug 2005
  • Question # 11: Do you oppose Instant Runoff Voting?
  • Instant run-off voting would allow voters to rank candidates when they go to vote, rather than simply voting for their top choice. If implemented, this would represent a significant change in voting methods in our state and could result in major changes in election outcomes. MCCL believes strongly in the principle of “one man one vote.” Instant runoff elections would dilute a persons vote and would essentially pro-rate it by the number of persons they support in such a run off.
  • MCCL believes that voting is a privilege and that it should be taken very seriously. We believe citizens can — and do — look at all aspects of voting for candidates before casting their votes. Instant run-off voting is also very confusing to voters. Some citizens may become so frustrated with alterations to the election process that they give up and don’t vote at all. For these reasons, MCCL opposes instant run-off voting.