About IRV Factcheck

Instant runoff voting (IRV) is a ranked choice voting method designed to uphold majority rule and accommodate increased voter choice. It mitigates the "spoiler effect," eliminates any practical incentives to engage in tactical voting and avoids the costs of running separate runoff elections. It allows voters to rank their choices in order of preference, and reach a consensus winner among the strongest candidates without requiring votes to come back for a second election.

This blog’s creators believe that instant runoff voting (IRV) represents a major improvement over the usual plurality (or "first past the post") system that can give us ”winners” of our highest offices who fail to demonstrate they have the support of more than 25% of voters and that results in darkhorse candidates being called "spoilers" when seeking to offer a new choice and perspective to voters. We also believe IRV is a sensible reform for jurisdictions that want to replace two rounds of elections with one, given how extra elections tend to depress turnout, exacerbate campaign spending and increase negative attacks.

Many thoughtful and impartial people – including political leaders like Barack Obama and John McCain and the membership of the League of Women Voters in many states agree that IRV is a worthy idea. Used at a national level in Australia and Ireland, forms of IRV have been adopted just since the late 1990’s in such cities as London (United Kingdom), San Francisco (CA), Oakland (CA), Minneapolis (MN) and Memphis (TN). Many organizations now use it for their private elections, and it has been implemented for national major party primaries in the United Kingdom and Canada. Even the Oscars adopted IRV for best picture when moving to ten nominees in 2009.

But IRV has its detractors. Some believe that it’s more important to only count first choices than try to ensure the winner isn’t most people’s last choice. Some strongly prefer other ideas for electing a single winner - ones who's critique can be fairly summarized as "well, IRV may work well in practice, but how does it work in theory?" Others strongly prefer proportional representation methods to any winner-take-all system like IRV. Still others are concerned that asking more of voters could backfire by muddying election transparency and confusing voters. And of course some partisans and special interests just want to keep the status quo.

There's nothing wrong with opposing reforms, of course, and we recognize that IRV is not perfect – in fact, it’s clear that every system comes with tradeoffs. But some detractors of IRV go too far. They, take news stories, facts and quotes out of context, or simply make things up in their zeal to stop IRV. The Internet can be an effective tool for them to spread “FUD” – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt – with a wide range of claims and attacks.

We hope this site will become a “go to” site for those who want to see if advocates of IRV have answers to concerns that have been raised about it. We plan to provide an ongoing means for defenders of IRV to explain their support and respond to critics. Here, you'll find detailed, point-by-point refutations of misrepresentations as well as news about important developments. We won't use this site for debates, however -- there are plenty of other forums for that.

To start, take a look at the links on the right for what we hope is immediately useful material, and then keep checking back – or subscribe – to see the latest.

Thanks for visiting our site.

Terrill Bouricius
Rob Richie
Jeanne Massey
Bob Richard
Jack Santucci

Greg Dennis