Instant-runoff voting

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Instant-runoff voting (or IRV) is a voting system that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference.[1] IRV does not allow a candidate to win a race without the majority of the votes cast by the electorate.[2][3][4]

The term 'instant runoff voting' is used because this process resembles a series of runoff elections but without the voter returning weeks later to vote in a runoff election.[3]

In the United States, especially in California, IRV is called "Ranked Choice Voting" or "RCV."[5]


IRV example ballot

In an IRV system, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives an overall majority of first preferences, the candidates with fewest votes are eliminated one by one and their votes transferred according to their second and third preferences (and so on) and then all votes retallied, until one candidate achieves a majority.[1][2][3][4]

Under the most common ballot layout, the voter places a "1" beside their most preferred candidate, a "2" beside their second most preferred and so on. In the ballot paper shown to the right of this page, the preferences of the voter are as follows:

  1. Joe Bobb
  2. Darryl Zero
  3. Righty Fahr

Each voter may only cast one vote, but during the process of counting votes, a vote may be transferred from one candidate to another.[1]


Ballot-counting process

Ballots are initially sorted according to their expressed first preferences, and if no candidate achieves an overall majority of "first" preferences, then the candidate with the "fewest" first preferences is eliminated. That candidate's votes are then recounted and are distributed to the remaining candidates according to the "second" preferences expressed on each ballot paper. If there is still not an overall majority of votes, then this process is continually repeated.[1][2][3][4]

Municipal elections

The following municipalities are known to use Instant-Runoff Voting.[6] If you know of any others, please contact us.

See also

Ballotpedia:Index of Terms

External links

Suggest a link

Additional reading