Ballot QuestionsThe presentation of instant runoff voting before the voters is a very important aspect of successful implementation. Below is a template of ballot language for IRV as well as the actual questions put before voters in previous IRV campaigns.
Ideal IRV Ballot Question
"Shall (name of jurisdiction) use instant run-off voting to elect (public official positions) with a majority of votes without separate run-off elections?"
Samples from past campaigns
San Francisco, CA:
"Shall the City use instant run-off voting to elect City officers with a majority of votes without separate run-off elections?"
Takoma Park, MD
"Shall the City Council vote to elect the Mayor and members of the city council by instant runoff voting, a method of majority voting that allows voters to rank candidates in order of choice?"
Note: Takoma Park does not have binding propositions by voters. The city council, who passed the policy, wanted the approval of city voters on whether or not to go forward with IRV. The language reflects this.
Santa Clara, CA
Shall the County of Santa Clara add section 208 stating, "Nothing in this Charter shall preclude the Board of Supervisors from authorizing an instant run-off voting system for the November general election, which eliminates the need for run-off elections, when such technology is available to the County?"
Note: Santa Clara had a nonbinding proposition passed by its citizens which reserved the option to switch to IRV, should it be logistically possible. This is not ideal IRV language, however. Typically, IRV legislation includes fixed dates for implementation and voting equipment.