IRV for Organizations
use IRV for elections in your club, congregation, or
other non-governmental organization
If you have any questions or would like assistance, please
don't hesitate to contact us at [email protected]
Instant runoff voting is perfect for organizational elections
when you have more than two people running for one office.
(If you are electing several people to a body that you wish
to be representative, you should use choice voting
.) Counting an IRV election by hand is easy when
you have fewer than a thousand ballots. If you've got more
than a thousand ballots, you might want to use ballot-counting
software that is available from Voting Solutions
will require entering the data from the ballots into a computer file
or using some type of ballot counting equipment that can read and
You can also use
IRV when making endorsements, even if you have a
"No Endorsement" or "None of the Above option."
Conducting an instant runoff election is easy.
All you have to do is:
- Create the ballots
- Sort the ballots by first place votes
- Successively eliminate the weakest candidates until one candidate
receives a majority of the ballots.
1. Create the ballots
The ballots must allow voters to indicate at least first,
second and third choice candidates. Each voter can make his
or her own ballot by simply writing down "1st choice,"
"2nd choice" and "3rd choice" on a piece
of paper, or you can distribute pre-printed ballots to the
voters. You can allow voters to rank as many candidates as
Either way, voters should be instructed to write in the name
of their first choice candidate, their second choice candidate
and the third third choice candidate.
The instructions can tell voters that they may vote for as
many or as few candidates as they wish. You can also inform
voters that ranking additional candidates can only help the
chances of election of the ranked candidates; it can never
hurt the chances of any of the voter's candidates. For example,
ranking a 2nd choice candidate will never cause your 1st choice
candidate to lose; it can only help the chances of your 2nd
to the voter
Please write the names of
your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice candidates. You may vote
for as many or as few candidates as you wish.
Sort the ballots
Examine each ballot to make sure that it is properly filled
out. In all cases, try to honor the intent of the voter if
it is clear. Only disregard a ballot if the voter's intent
is not clear or if the voter voted improperly, such as by
listing two candidates for first choice.
Once you have examined and interpreted the ballots, sort
them according to the first choice rankings. This will leave
you a pile of ballots for each candidate. Count the number
of votes in each pile, add them up, and determine if any candidate
has received a majority of the valid votes. If so, that candidate
is elected. If not, …
3. Successively eliminate the weakest candidate
Pick up the pile of ballots for the weakest candidate (the candidate
with the fewest votes), and redistribute them to the next-ranked candidate
on the ballot who is still in the race. If a ballot doesn't rank any more
candidates still in the race or ranks the next 2 candidates equally, the
ballot is declared "exhausted" and is set aside. These ballots are not
counted during the remainder of the election. After you eliminate the
weakest candidate, if any candidate receives a majority of the ballots
that rank candidates still in the race, the candidate is elected. Otherwise,
eliminate the weakest candidate and repeat the process. One candidate
is guaranteed to eventually receive a majority of the ballots that are
- If 2 or more candidates are tied for
weakest candidate, draw lots to determine which candidate to
- A majority means more than 50%, which
many people think of as 50% + 1. Only 1 candidate can receive a
majority of the vote.
- A majority of 6 votes is 4 (50% of 6 = 3,
and a majority is more than 3, or 4).
- A majority of 5 votes is 3 (50% of 5 = 2.5, and a majority is more
than 2.5, or 3).