How Instant Runoff Voting Works
Under instant runoff voting, (IRV) voters rank candidates on a ballot in order of preference. The ballots are tabulated and if a single candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, that candidate wins.
If no candidate has more than fifty percent of the first preference votes, then the candidate with the fewest first preference votes is eliminated. The ballots with the eliminated candidate as their first preference are then entered back into tabulation, but this time their second preference is counted.
This process of elimination and recounting is repeated until one candidate has a majority of votes and can be declared the winner.
Instant runoff voting is similar to the runoff elections Memphis has always had, but under IRV all the votes are tabulated one time, eliminating the need for a costly and historically low turnout runoff election. The City of Memphis Division of Finance estimates that instant runoff voting will save taxpayers $250,000 each year.
Instant runoff voting gives voters more choices at the ballot and encourages wider participation by accommodating a greater number of candidates in non-partisan races. It prevents the “spoiler effect,” ensuring that the person elected is supported by a majority of the voters. It allows voters to choose their most favored candidates without fear of helping elect their least favored candidate.