This FAQ is adapted
from the Better Democracy for Los Angeles website, at http://irvinla.org/:
is instant runoff voting?
is IRV different from what Kansas City currently uses for local elections?
using IRV boost voter turnout?
IRV lead to cost savings?
does instant runoff voting work?
will be elected in Kansas City using instant runoff voting?
can we bring IRV to Kansas City?
instant runoff voting too confusing for voters?
IRV a fair and easy system for voters protected under the Voting Rights
IRV have an impact on the awful mudslinging and negative campaigning?
IRV prevent spoilers and vote-splitting?
can I do to help?
What is instant
voting (IRV) is an electoral method that elects officeholders with
a majority of the vote in a single election. IRV eliminates the need
for a separate runoff election. Voters rank their favorite candidates
in order of choice (1, 2, 3) on their ballot, and the runoff rankings
are used to determine the majority winner instantly.
How is IRV
different from what Kansas City currently uses for local elections?
City uses a two-round runoff system to elect its local officeholders.
A primary is held in February, followed by the general
election between the top two finishers in March. This system of
two separate elections costs taxpayers millions of dollars, and often
leads to extremely low voter turnout – only 18% in the February 2007
primary. With IRV, candidates win by gaining a majority of voter support,
but IRV produces final results in a single election, eliminating the
need for the second election.
IRV boost voter turnout?
the current system, voter participation is usually very low: only
18.8 percent of registered voters participated in the February 2007
primary, followed by 27 percent turnout in the March runoff.
Turnout was even lower in 2003, with only 9.6 percent voting
in the primary, and 18.5 percent in the general. With
IRV, voters, candidates, and organizations can focus all their resources
and efforts on a single election, thereby maximizing voter participation.
Having one election instead of two prevents voter fatigue that contributes
to low turnout.
Can IRV lead
to cost savings?
combines the primary and runoff elections into one election, getting
rid of the high costs of administering the second election. With IRV,
all these unnecessary costs for a second election will be saved.
How does instant
runoff voting work?
voting acts like a series of runoff elections. If any candidate receives
a majority of the first choice rankings, that candidate is elected.
If not, the last place candidate is defeated, just as in a runoff
election, and all ballots are counted again, but this time each ballot
cast for the defeated candidate counts for the next-choice candidate
listed on each of those ballots. This process of eliminating the last
place candidate and recounting the ballots continues until one candidate
receives a majority of the vote. You can see a short interactive mini-movie
of how IRV will work in KC, including how voters rank their ballots
and how the ballots are counted, on the web at http://sfIRV.org/vote.
Who will be
elected in Kansas City using instant runoff voting?
IRV would be used
to elect the mayor and city council members.
How can we bring IRV to Kansas City?
To bring IRV to
Kansas City, voters need to approve an amendment to the City Charter.
But first this amendment has to be placed on the ballot, which requires
either approval by a majority of the KC City Council, OR
a voter initiative receiving signatures from 10 percent of registered
Right now, the
City Council is studying IRV and how it will benefit our city and
runoff voting too confusing for voters?
Not at all. Many
studies have examined if IRV elections used in various jurisdictions
were confusing for voters. All the studies have found that voters
handle ranking their ballots with ease. San Francisco State University’s
Public Research Institute has conducted two exit poll studies and
found that 87% of those who voted in San Francisco’s IRV elections
felt they understood IRV – results that cut across all ethnic, age
and gender lines. 60% of voters used all three of their rankings,
and 61% preferred IRV over San Francisco’s old two round runoff system.
Another poll by the Asian Law Caucus found similar results. The results
undoubtedly were so positive because the role for voters is very simple—just
rank as many of your favorite candidates as you wish, 1, 2, 3. It’s
like going to Baskin Robbins 31 flavors of ice cream, and picking
your top three flavors. We are used to ranking things all the time,
from our favorite sports teams to our favorite videos and foods, so
ranking candidates is easy.
Is IRV a fair
and easy system for voters protected under the Voting Rights Act?
to the San Francisco State studies, 87% of all voters said that they
understood IRV. African Americans, Latinos, and Asians were the most
likely groups to rank three candidates (the maximum possible). Latinos
were most likely to say that ranking was easy or very easy (58%),
and Latino voters had the smallest percentage of voters indicating
some lack of understanding of the system, only 10%, and only 16% of
African-Americans. Spanish first-language speakers had the smallest
percentage of voters indicating some lack of understanding, only 9%
versus 12% for English speakers. Voters whose first language was Spanish
were considerably more likely than others to say that ranking candidates
was easy or very easy, with almost two-thirds giving that response.
Another exit poll by the Asian Law Caucus found that Asians overwhelmingly
Can IRV have
an impact on the awful mudslinging and negative campaigning?
recent KC elections, voters have been bombarded with nasty “hit” pieces,
personal attacks and TV ads telling them the worst about their political
leaders. In contrast, IRV discourages such mudslinging because candidates
know they may need the second or third ranking from other candidates’
supporters to win. The result is a major shift in traditional campaign
strategy. Instead of mudslinging, candidates have an incentive to
run civil, issues-based campaigns and find common ground. Covering
San Francisco’s IRV elections, one New York Times headline
read: "New Runoff System in San Francisco Has the Rival Candidates
Cooperating." Such coalition-building is certain to benefit the eventual
winner when governing.
Will IRV prevent
spoilers and vote-splitting?
the current system, multiple candidates from the same constituency
can “split” the vote, resulting in those candidates cancelling each
other out. IRV’s ranked ballots allow voters to rank their first,
second and third choices and to participate in coalitions among like-minded
candidates, avoiding such vote-splitting.
What can I
do to help?
or write your Councilmember and
Mayor Sly James. Tell our leaders to do their part to bring IRV to
the word. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues about
IRV. When people understand how IRV works, they tend to support it.
Other effective means are to get organizations you are a part of to
support IRV, or write letters to the editor to local papers and newsletters.
your time. IRV will NOT be adopted in KC without your help.
Please contact us at 816-260-6002 or firstname.lastname@example.org.