18. IRV faces no obstacle from federal laws or the federal constitution

For state elections, there is certainly no federal restriction. Many states and municipalities have used a variety of preference voting systems. But what about federal elections, President/Vice president electors, U.S. Senators, and U.S. Representative? Is there a federal restriction on voting systems? There are some regulations, but none that would preclude IRV.

The constitutional requirements are few. They include: The requirement that Congress be chosen by the citizenry (Article I sec. 2: states "The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States..."); that the state legislatures shall decide the voting system subject to override by Congress (Article I sec. 4: states "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of chusing [sic] Senators."); that Congress shall rule on disputes over an election of a member (Article I sec. 5: "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members..."); the voting system for selecting members of the electoral college is solely the responsibility of the state legislature except as to the timing, (Article II sec. 1: The President and Vice-President shall "be elected as follows Each State shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to [the number of Representatives and Senators combined]...The Congress may determine the Time of chusing [sic] the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.").

There are only two restrictions Congress has applied to how states conduct federal elections. The first restriction is a prohibition against electing U.S. Representatives from at-large districts of more than one seat. The second restriction is an 1872 law that prohibits any state from holding a decisive election for a federal office on any date prior to the national date. This law was cited when the Supreme Court threw out a Louisiana voting system used from 1975 till this year, wherein an open, unitary primary, allowed a winner with more than 50% of the total vote to be declared elected in October without any November election. Neither of these restrictions would have any impact on adopting IRV.