IRV is not a perfect system. If the goal of an election is to find the candidate who is acceptable to the greatest number of people, as opposed to the favorite of perhaps a small number of people, IRV is not guaranteed to do that. It is possible that someone who is the first choice of very very few voters is the second or third choice of almost everyone, but because the first candidate to be eliminated is the one with the fewest first choice votes that will never be discovered. (This same criticism will apply in subsequent elimination rounds as well.) IRV does not always measure the depth of feeling about a candidate. There are other ways of conducting elections, with Bucklin voting correcting the flaw of IRV (though perhaps creating a different one). A good summary of 14 different voting systems can be found at On the whole, IRV has the advantages of being a vast improvement over OSO, relatively easy to understand and affordable to conduct.

If you oppose change because you oppose change, which seems to be Al Diamon's bottom line, then oppose IRV. But if you support true democracy and believe that you and in fact almost everyone who votes is capable of learning how to count from one to three or maybe five or ten then you owe it to yourself and to democracy to consider Instant Runoff Voting. And if you really want to be a crusader for electoral justice educate yourselves about all the other ways of conducting elections that prevent someone from gaining real power without real support.

Seth Berner


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