Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) Conference

On June 25, The Center for Voting and Democracy attended the ADA Conference in Washington, D.C.  Our staff conducted a demonstration election using Instant Runoff Voting to select John Kerry's Vice Presidential running mate for the November election.

A total of 43 ballots were cast in our mock election. IRV elections require majority support (50% plus one), so 23 votes were needed in order to win.  With 24 votes in the first count, John Edwards had a majority and was the winner, making it unnecessary for any subsequent rounds of counting. Bill Richardson came in a distant second with 4 votes, while Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton tied for third place with 3 votes each.

While John Edwards did win the mock election, we redistributed the votes as if no candidate had won a majority in order to demonstrate how IRV works.  This chart details the process we used to count votes in this IRV election for Vice President.  Also, here is a summary of each round of vote-counting:

First Round: Although Edwards won in the first round with 24 votes, we carried out the Instant Runoff Voting process as if he did not receive a clear majority.  As stated above, Richardson had 4 votes, and Clinton and Dean each had 3 votes.  Richard Gephadrt, Wesley Clark and Russ Feingold all received 2 votes, while John McCain, John Lewis and write-in Barbara Boxer had 1 vote each.  The three candidates with 1 vote each were all eliminated and their votes redistributed to the voters' second-choice candidates.

Second Round: After McCain, Lewis and Boxer were eliminated and the votes redistributed to other candidates, Edwards had a total of 27 votes.  As the preferred second-choice for backers of McCain, Lewis and Boxer, Edwards gained all 3 of their votes.  The rest of the candidates' total votes remained unchanged.  Gephardt, Clark and Feingold, all with 2 votes, were eliminated since they had the least total votes.

Third Round: Gephardt, Clark and Feingold supporters evenly split their second-choices between Dean and Edwards.  After recounting the ballots, Dean and Edwards picked up 3 votes each.  Richardson and Clinton did not gain any additional votes and maintained their 4 and 3 votes, respectively. With the lowest total votes, Clinton was then eliminated.

Fourth Round: Clinton backers slightly favored Edwards over Dean.  After Clinton was eliminated, Edwards gained 2 votes and Dean gained 1 vote. Richardson remained the same. With 4 total votes, Richardson was in last place and was eliminated.

Fifth Round: Richardson's supporters preferred Edwards over Dean.  After this final recount, Edwards' total increased by 3 votes and Dean's by 1 vote. Edwards had 35 votes, while Dean followed far behind with 8 votes.  As these were the last two candidates, Dean was eliminated and Edwards declared the winner.