Why Instant Runoff Voting?

Instant runoff voting or IRV (also known as ranked choice voting) is a simple, common sense upgrade to the way that we vote that solves multiple problems

veterans for political innovation

Why IRV?

Save Time and Money with IRV

  • The state of South Carolina spent over $830,000 just in primary runoffs in 2018 and over 1 million dollars in 2022. What a waste! See more wasted money figures here.
  • Runoffs occur when no candidate in the race achieves 50% of the vote. Runoffs are most prevalent in primaries, but many places in South Carolina require the candidate to secure at least 50% of the vote. When they do not, a runoff election is triggered and voters need to return to the polls in two weeks.
    • Runoffs generally have a much lower voter turnout compared to regular elections.
  • With IRV, voters only need to vote once. This saves time and money. Plus, it ensures that more than 50% of the voters have voted for the winner.
  • Currently, our overseas military and absentee voters can use an instant runoff ballot.

CATO Institute

Encourages Competition

  • Everyone loves a good competition: more choices mean that we can more easily find a candidate who represents our will.
  • Since voters can rank their choices on a single ballot, we can vote for the best candidate with the best ideas instead of voting strategically. Ranking back up choices increases the likelihood that a candidate you support ultimately wins.

Senator John McCain

Promotes Majority Support

  • Not all South Carolina elections result in a runoff if a candidate secures less than 50% of the vote. That means that we have elected officials for whom the majority of South Carolinians did not vote.
    • In 2018 there were 79 races where the winner did not secure majority support
  • With IRV, we don't have to go back to the polls to ensure majority support because we rank our candidates all at once. Every winner will have secured majority support.

South Carolina Green Party

Discourages Negative Campaigning

  • Since voters rank their choices, candidates also want to be voter's second and third choices.
  • In non-IRV elections, candidates benefit from mudslinging and attacking their opponent instead of sharing their positive vision and policies with voters. This can lead to increasingly toxic and polarizing campaigns.

  • With IRV, candidates also compete for second choice votes from their opponents’ supporters which lessens the incentive to run a negative campaign. In IRV contests, candidates do best when they reach out positively to as many voters as possible, including those supporting their opponents.

Alliance Party

Other Benefits

  • Reduces polarization
  • Encourages greater representation
    • Candidates are sometimes pressured to stay out of the race for fear of splitting the vote with another similar candidate. This can be particularly true for candidates from groups under-represented in elected office, such as people of color and women. 
  • Minimizes strategic voting by eliminating vote splitting and the spoiler effect


How Does It Work

Instant Runoff Voting is a simple upgrade to the way we currently vote.

Right now, when you vote, you pick one candidate. With Instant Runoff Voting, you get to rank candidates in the order that you prefer them: 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, and so on. If your first choice can’t win, your vote automatically transfers to your second choice.

If a candidate secures more than 50% of the vote in the first round, then nothing is different and the candidate wins. However, if a candidate does not receive 50% of the vote, the candidate who has secured the fewest votes is eliminated and anyone who voted for that candidate has their vote transferred to their second pick. This process continues until a candidate reached 50%. This ensures that every vote counts and the candidate who won has majority support.

It's that simple. We rank all kinds of things in our lives. We all have favorites and second choices, even third choices. Better Ballot SC wants to upgrade all South Carolinians to this common sense way of voting.

Here's an example of a sample BBQ Ballot:




What Others Are Saying


Cato Institute: Reasons to Like Ranked Choice Voting

FairVote: What Unites Utah Republicans and Democrats? Ranked Choice Voting

Washington Post: How Ranked Choice Voting Saved the Virginia GOP From Itself


Videos on IRV/RCV

Fair Vote has been educating the public about the benefits of Instant Runoff Voting for years. Check out one of their videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqblOq8BmgM

The Utah Republican Party used IRV in their National Convention. See their explainer video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie2tyRlj6Bw

Check out this video that talks about voting for the lesser of two evils: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6pC5IJirrY

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  • Nicole Sanchez
    published this page 2023-05-24 05:16:15 -0400