Papua New Guinea
Implements Instant Runoff Voting
Papua New Guinea is a nation of about five million people near
Australia. In 2002 its government moved to adopt instant runoff
voting (which it calls"limited preferential voting", as voters are
limited to three choices) for its legislative elections. The system
was seen as a way to encourage representatives to reach beyond their
base, as plurality election had been resulting in candidates winning
with low plurality votes, often under 25%.
The new system was
used in a special election in December 2003 and, as has so often
been the case, worked very well. The winner nearly won on the first
count, but did fall short of a majority and won on the second count.
One key point from an American perspective was that the percentage
of spoiled ballots was under 2% -- less than the percentage of
spoiled ballots nationally in our presidential election in
2000. As has been shown in many conditions, ranked-choice
systems are not difficult for voters -- indeed the voter error rate
is consistently about 0.5% in Ireland's presidential elections.
Below are representative articles about the initial
ABC Radio Australia:
"PNG voting system praised by new MP." December 24,
The National: "Yes, there is a
Doctor in the House." December 18, 2003.
adopts new voting system for by-election." December 4, 2003.
Pacific: "Optimism over new voting system in
PNG." December 12, 2003.
National: "Trawen heartened by low number of
informal votes." December 17, 2003.
National: "Dr Temu scores decisive victory."
December 17, 2003.