Not everyone will research every candidate but you can, and through IRV ranking you can say who you want most, who you can live with, and who you do not want at all. So let's look at an IRV election in which there are five candidates. Every voter gets to say who they want in order of one through five. If one candidate gets over 50% of voters' first choice votes the election is over and that candidate wins. If not, the candidate who finishes fifth is eliminated; the ballots that named that person first choice are examined to see who was chosen second; and the second choice votes are distributed to the remaining candidates. These new totals are looked at to see if anyone has over 50% now. This process is repeated until someone does have over 50% of the available vote. Diamon portrays this as too complicated for mere mortals but while there are ways to use IRV strategically its basic process is not much more complicated for voters than ranking ice cream flavors. Transitioning from one-selection-only to IRV is no more difficult than evolving from conventional telephones to smart phones; and the increase in utility is about equally as dramatic. It worked fine the first time it was used in Portland's 2011 mayoral election.
Mention the Florida 2000 presidential election and what many people believe about it is that by taking 1.6% of the votes that should have gone to Gore Nader gave the election to Bush. This is not a fair accusation for a couple of reasons but it is a convenient way to demonstrate how IRV prevents unfairness. Assuming that the 97,488 people who voted for Nader all preferred Gore over Bush, had that preference had been factored into the results, as would have happened with IRV, Gore would have won Florida handily and the course of history would have been much different. And the different history would not have been based on arbitrary shuffling of statistics but on people's preferences being given meaning.
(In fact, the situation in Florida was much more complicated because more than four candidates other than Bush, Gore and Nader received votes; and it is not clear that all the voters for "small" candidates actually supported the "big" candidate closest in philosophy. Nonetheless, looking at the situation analytically rather than emotionally it is almost certain that had the election been conducted with IRV Gore would have won.)
We have had compelling demonstrations in Maine as well of the need for IRV. In 2010 Paul LePage was elected governor with but 39% of the vote. With IRV, supporters of Moody, Scott, Cutler and Mitchell could support their candidates as their first choice, and then name their second and third and fourth choices. And if it turned out, as seems very likely, that of the 61% who did not vote for LePage as their first choice at least 50% preferred one particular person other than LePage our present governor would have been elected with over 50% voter support.
IRV does not benefit only Democrats. Had there been IRV in the 2006 Maine governor's race it is quite possible that LaMarche's 9% would have gone to Baldacci; Merrill's 21% would have gone to Woodcock; and the Republican would have been elected governor with 51% of the vote, which is an obvious improvement over the 38% that swept Baldacci back to the Blaine House. IRV does not favor one big party over another, it simply does a better job of choosing a winner with the broadest support regardless of party.
, Politics, elections