At this year's NAACP convention in Philadelphia, The Center for Voting and Democracy held an IRV demonstration election. Voters were asked to use Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) to select the most important campaign issue in 2004.
A total of 81 votes were cast in our demonstration election. IRV requires that a candidate win a majority (50% plus one) of votes in order to win the election. In this case, the threshold was set at 41 votes. This chart details the process we used to count votes in this IRV election. Also, here is a summary of each round of ballot counting:
Round 1: In the first round of counting, Education had the lead with 28 votes. It was followed by Iraq and the Economy with 8 votes each, and Criminal Justice with 7 votes. Affordable Housing and Healthcare both won 6 votes, while Gun Control and Welfare each earned 2. There were 3 write-ins, 11 ballots that weren't able to be counted and no votes for the Environment. Because no issue received a clear majority, the issues that were tied with the least votes (Gun Control and Welfare) were eliminated and their votes were redistributed.
Round 2: With the votes redistributed, Healthcare and Iraq each gained two votes. At this stage, the standings were 3 write-in votes, Affordable Housing with 6 votes, Criminal Justice with 7 votes, Economy and Healthcare with 8 votes each, Iraq with 10 votes, and Education still in the lead with 28 votes. Because the write-ins were in last place this round, they were eliminated.
Round 3: After the write-ins were eliminated and their votes redistributed, Healthcare picked up 2 votes and 1 ballot was exhausted. Education held the lead position with 28 votes and was followed by Iraq and Healthcare with 10 each, Economy with 8, and Criminal Justice with 7 votes. With only 6 votes, Affordable Housing was eliminated.
Round 4: Affordable Housing backers seemed to also be concerned with Criminal Justice. After Affordable Housing was eliminated, Criminal Justice gained 3 votes and the Economy, Education and Iraq gained 1 vote each. At the end of this round, Education had 29 votes, Iraq had 11, and Criminal Justice and Healthcare each had 10. The Economy was eliminated with 9 votes.
Round 5: Those who expressed their support for economic issues tended to rank Iraq as their second-choice. Iraq picked up 5 of the 9 economy votes with the other 4 votes being pretty evenly distributed among the other issues. As the fifth round ended, Education had 31 votes, Iraq had 16, and Criminal Justice and Healthcare had 11 votes each. Even though the votes between Criminal Justice and Healthcare were tied, the collective votes between the two added up to more than the votes for Iraq; therefore we could only eliminate one issue. We ended up eliminating Healthcare because it had fewer first choice votes than Criminal Justice.
Round 6: Those backing Healthcare heavily favored Education as their second choice. Education picked up 7 votes, giving it a total of 38 votes and Iraq gained 3 votes, giving it a total of 19 votes. Criminal Justice was eliminated with 12 votes
Round 7: Out of the 12 votes for Criminal Justice, only 1 went to Iraq, and the other 11 went to Education. Education ended with 49 total votes which put it over the 41 vote threshold and made it the winner. Iraq finished second with 20 total votes. 12 ballots were ultimately exhausted or uncountable.