Poor Voter TurnoutLow voter turnout is often an issue that is brought up to criticize elections. If only a minority of the population votes, and a minority of the voters determine the winner, then officials can be elected with only a small percentage of the population supporting them.
Run-off elections fare even worse. In many city and local elections a winner can only be declared when one candidate receives a majority. If the general election fails to produce a majority winner, then a run-off must be held. These subsequent elections historically have had extremely low turnout, with most voters not participating and thus further undermining the legitimacy of the election.
IRV is a way to change this trend. It completely eliminates the need for subsequent run-off elections by allowing voters to rank candidates by preference. This was used with great success in the recent San Francisco city elections. Run-offs previously garnered sporadic participation and added much to the cost of city elections. Statistically, turnout jumped by over 300% with the introduction of IRV.
[Read FairVote's report on the San Francisco city elections using IRV here]