The Solution
By implementing Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) for all state elections, North Carolina would avoid the financial costs and decreased turnout of an added runoff, and ensure a full majority support not just 40% for all election winners. IRV is not an unusual or untested electoral system. In has been used successfully in many countries around the world, as well as in the U.S. to elect officials fairly. Even within North Carolina, the 11th Congressional District of North Carolina Convention of the Democratic Party passed a resolution on April 21, 2001 establishing a committee to study the feasibility of adopting instant runoff voting.

The premise behind IRV is the same as the traditional runoff; the difference is that the rounds of elimination are conducted on one ballot. So, where North Carolina voters currently cast two ballots (or more often, do not cast any ballot), they would instead head to the poll on election day and rank all the candidates for each race: 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. Thatís all they need to know.

The ballots are then tabulated by computer. If no candidate receives over 50% of 1st choice ballots, the computer eliminates the candidate with the lowest number of 1st choices. This is similar to the current North Carolina process except for two points: A.) the threshold is higher 50% +1 is the only way to guarantee majority rule; B.) currently, everyone besides the top two candidates are eliminated; with IRV, they are eliminated one-by-one to ensure everyoneís vote matters.
The computer transfers the eliminated candidateís ballots to the votersí next choices. If no candidate receives over 50% after this round, the process is repeated, until someone hits the majority threshold. The goal of the runoff is achieved with greater accuracy and less cost to the taxpayer.

While the executive director of the N.C. State Board of Elections has hinted that not every county has voting equipment that could do the electoral arithmetic, the money saved in second elections ($3 million in 2004) would pay for modern, IRV-friendly equipment.

Additionally, IRV would correct the spoiler effect of plurality elections. Even using a separate runoff in North Carolina, races with multiple candidates are not free from vote-sapping, as demonstrated in the tenth Congressional District race. The voters' ranked choices are eliminated one by one on a single ballot, rather than by several eliminations over two ballots. So, in the aforementioned race, George Moretz' supporters would transfer their votes to the remaining three candidates, each voter casting his/her preference. If Sandy Lyons shared a similar support base with Moretz, she may be propelled into second or even first place.

Simply, IRV ensures the victor has won with the support of more voters than any other candidate. A fundamental tenet of election theory states that if more people would prefer Sandy Lyons to David Huffman, Lyons should win. It's simple, and it's fair. IRV ensures exactly that.

Recent Articles
October 19th 2009
A better election system
Lowell Sun

Election expert Doug Amy explains how choice voting can "inject new blood" into the elections of Lowell (MA), and give voters a greater incentive to participate.

October 16th 2009
Haven't Detroit voters spoken enough?
Livingston Daily

In Detroit, there have been three mayors in the past two years and the current one has come under scrutiny. Perhaps a system like instant runoff voting will help bring political stability to motor city.

August 21st 2009
Black candidate for Euclid school board to test new voting system
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Limited voting, a form of proportional voting, will be used in Euclid (OH), in the hopes of allowing better representation of minorities.

July 2nd 2009
Reforming Albany
New York Times

FairVote's Rob Richie responds in a letter to the editor making the case for proportional voting systems to bring substantive reform to New York's legislature.