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Instant Runoff Voting - Facts vs Fiction

Instantrunoffvoting.us is here to educate and inform the public about problems with instant runoff voting. Use this website to find out what computer scientists, mathematicians, political consultants, election officials, government officials, election integrity activists and voter advocates say about Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), also called Rank Choice Voting. 

See our news page for frequent updates. See our studies page  for reports & analysis. 
 
Update-Jurisdictions abandon Instant runoff voting IRV ditched by Sunnyvale California, Aspen, Colorado, Cary North Carolina, Pierce County Washington, Burlington Vermont, the Utah Republican Party and even Georgetown University. IRV has been controversial in San Francisco and a lawsuit was filed to try to block the limited pick 3 style IRV. The list grows.
 
The Truth About Instant Runoff Voting - It Does Not Work As Advertised and Here is Proof Instant Runoff Voting does not work as advertised, and has unintended consequences .  IRV is not "as easy as 1-2-3" and  hurts third parties  by entrenching the two-party political system wherever it has been tried.  IRV does not save money, does not reduce negative campaigning, does not simplify elections, does not increase turnout and does not provide a majority outcome in most elections. Instant Runoff Voting is not instant: San Franciso, Minneapolis Minnesota and Pierce County Washington all adopted instant runoff voting but renamed it  "Ranked Choice Voting" to reflect the method more realistically.  In San Francisco, implementation of IRV corresponded with a drastic drop in voter turnout  in mayoral contests; IRV consistantly suffers from majority failure and usually provides a plurality result. Several states' fiscal analysis show that IRV creates new and higher  costs in elections. There are other ways to improve elections or help third parties without the drawbacks of IRV. Read more in this report .

IRV does not provide a majority,  but awards "winners" with less than 50% of the ballots cast.Cary North Carolina was promised that IRV would provide a 50%+1 majority but that was completely false. See  The Instant Runoff Voting Lie, as told to Cary, North Carolina and our page on Majority Failure

IRV does not save money,  but increases costs of elections: Minneapolis Minnesota learned that the continuing cost of IRV/RCV is $244,000 for each year IRV is in use....President Barb Johnson (4th Ward), was miffed by the study. “It is disturbing to me that we’re talking about an extra quarter of a million dollars for a system that was supposed to decrease our costs,” Johnson said.  Find the report at http://bit.ly/d5q2Y1  

Did you really believe that FairVote wants to save you money?  FairVote's  key goal is to promote IRV but they also sell election services and have partnerships with vendors

If you don't like costly low turnout runoff elections, then don't have them. 42 states do not hold statewide runoff elections . Its simpler and costs less than IRV but provides same result - plurality

IRV violates core principles of election integrity, whether using optical scan voting systems or Direct Record/Touchscreen machines. IRV increases reliance on more complex technology, making audits and recounts more prohibitive, further eroding election transparency.  Because IRV is not additive, no matter what voting system is used, the ballots, (electronic or optical scan) have to be hauled away from where they are cast to a central location to be counted.  This increases the chance of fraud or lost votes. The tallying software utilizes a complex algorithm that makes the process even more opaque.  

IRV does not help racial minorities and may even impede them .  IRV may negatively impact the disabled.  Instant Runoff Voting Fails to Meet its Hype. See our frequently updated news page .

What IS instant runoff voting?

Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is a voting system used for single-winner elections in which voters can rank candidates in order of preference. In an IRV election, if no candidate receives a majority of first choices, the candidate with the fewest number of votes is eliminated, and ballots cast for that candidate are redistributed to the continuing candidates according to the voters' indicated preference.

Who supports Instant Runoff Voting?

The current push to implement Instant Runoff Voting (nation-wide) was inspired by Fair Vote , a group whose ultimate goal is to convert the United States over to "proportional representation" a form of government used in many European countries. IRV is being touted as a way to boost third parties, reduce or eliminate the "spoiler effect", save money by avoiding runoff elections, increase turnout and decrease negative campaigning.

IRV requires (incentivizes) more complex voting machines/technology that isn't yet ready for prime time.  San Francisco elections were a beta test for IRV software from 2004-2007. In 2007 Secretary of State McPherson reported an long existing anomaly in the IRV algorithm used to calculate the winners.  Pierce County, Washington used uncertified voting systems already found to have flaws, in November 2008. Officials there felt backed against a wall because by law they are required to implement IRV, but found it too hard to count by hand. A majority of Pierce County voters voted to ditch IRV on Nov 3, 2009.

IRV comes before election integrity for many IRV supporters.  Advocates for IRV have attacked one of the nations' most respected election officials for refusing to allow the use of new voting systems that did not meet the standards of California's election laws.  On May 18 2010 FairVote Chair Kurt Novoselic made comments to a news article that indicated a shocking disdain and lack of knowledge of the election integrity issue. See  Chair of pro-instant runoff voting group mocks verified voting movement
 
IRV proponent Steven Hill attacked nationally respected California Secretary of State Debra Bowen in   "S.F. supervisors blamed for blocking new voting system."    Hill basically said that the SOS of California's efforts to protect voters were "borderline ridiculous..." Bowen's refusal to bend or break the law infuriated Mr. Hill, who attacked Bowen in several publications.  IRV advocates even "partnered" with an internet voting company. See November 12, 2009 FairVote Partnership with Internet Voting Company EveryoneCounts erased after post to election integrity group Internet webpage is scrubbed within days after made public to election integrity activists.
 
 
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Minneapolis short $385,000 for 2013 elections  STEVE BRANDT,Star Tribune  Feb 27, 2013 A new ranked-voting method used by Minneapolis costs five times more per voter than traditional voting.

“This is not a ballot, this is a portal into hell.” — Asheville City Council member Carl Mumpower on instant-runoff ballots, in ”Votes and Slopes,” May 16, 2007 

Liberal Blogger Brad Friedman  'Instant Runoff Voting' (IRV) Election Virus Spreads to Los Angeles County :Joins 'Internet Voting' and 'Vote-by-Mail' schemes as the latest bad ideas poised to further cripple American democracy

Voting Paradoxes and Perverse Outcomes: Political Scientist Tony Gierzynski Lays Out A Case Against Instant Runoff Voting March 12th, 2009

"The Problem with Instant Runoff Voting"

In Realities Mar Instant Runoff Voting - 18 Flaws and 3 Benefits “Instant runoff voting is a threat to the fairness, accuracy, timeliness, and economy of U.S. elections. The U.S. needs to solve its existing voting system problems and then carefully consider the options before adopting new voting methods.” ~ Kathy Dopp Protect US Elections - Stop Instant Runoff Voting  News,blog about Instant Runoff Voting in the US -

REPEAL IRV

Protect North Carolina Elections - Stop Instant Runoff Voting  Blog to educate and inform NC Public and Officials about unintended problems with IRV 

No IRV in NC!  This blog is for people to comment on the problems with Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) and how we can keep it from creeping into North Carolina under the disguise of election reform. 

IRV page at the Center for Range Voting much research about how IRV works. Rebuts many claims.

Aspen Election Review May 5 2009 IRV single ballot audit unit

Chuck Herrin, IT Certification specialist and White Hat Hacker –on auditability and security  under "Since You Asked"  

San Francisco Director of Elections Jim Arntz  on costs and labor for voter education and for recounts.

Flaws in IRV compared to ranked pairs

Ka-Ping Yee's Voting Simulation Visualizations

Minnesota Voters Alliance

North Carolina Coalition For Verified Voting

Raleigh, North Carolina City Counsel tabled IRV, city council members explain why .

Kevin McGuire, an associate professor of political science at UNC  Chapel Hill about voter --- participation tied to knowledge of candidates in judicial contests 

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