Instant Runoff Voting

Policy Paper
Feb. 1, 2007

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Americans want a more representative and responsive government capable of addressing the nation's challenges, yet our electoral system is founded on antiquated practices that inhibit voter choices and encourage a politics of polarization and paralysis. It's time to bring our electoral system into the 21st century by adopting instant runoff voting (IRV).

IRV elects winners with majority support in a single election by allowing voters to rank a first, second, and third choice on their ballots. If no candidate wins a majority, and a voter's first choice is eliminated, the vote goes to the voter's second-ranked candidate as his or her runoff choice. IRV encourages more electoral competition, solves the "spoiler" problem, enables voters to choose the candidate they really want, and encourages candidates to win by building coalitions rather than tearing down opponents.

The full text of this essay is available below in PDF format. To learn more about our other Big Ideas for a New America, please click here.

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