Green Party of California

GPCA Issues: Instant Runoff Voting (IRV)

The current election system encourages tactical voting, produces spoiler candidate scenarios, encourages conscionable voters to waste their vote, and allows a candidate to win an election where a majority of voters disapprove of the winner. These problems have a solution: Instant Runoff Voting.

Using IRV, voters get to rank their candidates, ending the talk of 'spoilers' or 'wasted votes. If no one gets a majority of first place votes (a president hasn't done that since the 1980s), the losing candidate is eliminated, and like a runoff election, his supporters choose their second-choice candidate. This process of instant runoffs continues until one candidate earns a majority. The instant runoff will avoid the chaos of the 2000 presidential election and ensure our elected officials have the broadest amount of support.

The plurality voting system actually punishes people for voting for third parties, because those votes help elect the less-desired major-party candidate. IRV almost entirely removes this punishment and gives third parties a fair opportunity to pursue a majority vote.

In a state with several ethnic pluralities and no majority, use of IRV will mean that an ethnic minority candidate who can win second-choice votes from other ethnic minorities will be able to win.

1-2-3, I-R-V

IRV is supported by Democrats, Republicans, Greens and Libertarians alike.

Sierra Club - No More Spoliers: A better way at the ballot box

Races and Legislation to Watch

  • Prop A in San Francisco - March 5, 2002 -- PASSED!
  • Alaska - IRV to appear on statewide ballots in August, 2002

  • California - An IRV bill, AB 1515, has been introduced in the California Assembly, as well as AB 56, which would purchase new voting equipment and AB 55 which would insure new equipment is IRV-friendly.
  • Illinois - Senator Barack Obama introduced SB 1789 in the Senate on 2/6/2002. This bill will require state primary elections to use IRV, allow cities to adopt IRV for local elections and require special elections (to fill vacancies for the US Congress and Governor) to use IRV.
  • Maryland - An IRV bill has been introduced in the Maryland Senate (SB 233).
  • New Jersey - State Senator Bill Schluter (R) in June 2001 introduced a constitutional amendment (SCR112) to use instant runoff voting for all elections that elect one winner.
  • New Mexico - A 1999 IRV effort passed the NM Senate, but has stalled since.
  • Oregon - In September 2001, the Eugene City Council put an IRV amendment on the citywide ballot, but unfortunately, it did not pass.
  • Vermont - A multi-partisan bill has been introduced calling for IRV in Vermont (H.0175 in the House and S.0094 in the Senate).
  • Washington - Bipartisan IRV bill SB 5338
  • National - In 2001 (107th Congress), Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr (D-IL) introduced bill HR 3232 which would allow states who have IRV elections to receive grants to update their voting equipment. Write your Representative and urge their support.

Try IRV Out

IRV in Use

  • Measures enabling IRV use have been passed in Santa Clara County (for general use), Oakland (for city council vacancies), and San Leandro (for city council and mayor). IRV is not actually used yet in any of these locations because they do not have the appropriate voting equipment, but this should change within a year or two.
  • Oakland (CA) became the first US city adopt instant runoff voting for local election in 25 years. Voters overwhelmingly passed a city charter amendment to use instant runoff voting in special elections to fill vacancies on the city council.
  • In nearby San Leandro, voters adopted a city charter amendment to use majority runoff (two-round runoff ) elections for city council with the option to use instant runoff voting.
  • IRV has been used in Australia and Ireland for many decades.
  • City of Vancouver passed an amendment to use IRV in its elections
  • Stanford's student government (ASSU) uses IRV for the selection of its president and vice president.
  • Students voted by 75% to use IRV in executive races for the Illinois Student Government of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign
  • In August 2001, the Utah Republican Party (the largest party in Utah) used IRV at its state convention.

Take Action

More IRV Details