IRV "Fact sheet" from Cary NC

By Joyce McCloy, Founder, NC Coalition for Verified Voting

Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) proponents often describe it as "easy as 1,2,3." The trouble is, when they actually get legislation passed to implement IRV, it often doesn't come out sounding quite so simple. Below the triple line is an actual official IRV "fact sheet" from Cary, North Carolina,explaining how it is "easy as 1-2-3." See if you agree.

Later note added by WDS: After IRV was used experimentally in a Cary North Carolina election, their 2008 bi-annual citizen survey found that 22% "did not understand IRV at all." (Even though Cary has the highest number of Ph.D.'s per capita in the USA among towns with >75000 population and over 60% of adults age>25 hold a bachelor degree.) However, the IRV propaganda organization FairVote countered that an NCSU exit poll survey found much more positive IRV responses by Cary voters. FairVote did not actually provide the poll report, but I think they meant this poll. Cary stopped using Instant Runoff Voting.

Instant Runoff Voting - Easy as 1, 2, 3

Pilot Program

Cary will use a new method of voting for the October 9 election, which makes a separate runoff unnecessary.






1      A 2006 law (HB-1024, Session Law 2006-192) allows a limited number of cities and counties to use a new method of voting called Instant Runoff Voting, which combines Election Day and the Runoff into one election


2      Instant Runoff Voting lets voters select their first choice and back-up choices "instantly," by ranking candidates: 1, 2, 3.  Because a separate runoff is not needed, it saves money and elects a winner with more voter participation.


3      The Town of Cary, Wake County Board of Elections, and State Board of Elections all approved Cary's participation in this program.  Instant Runoff Voting will be used for each office where three or more candidates have filed to run.


 How it works:


1      First round of counting:  Voters choose up to three candidates in the order of their preference: 1st, 2nd, 3rd.  (Nobody has to choose more candidates than they want to.)  Only the voters' first-choices are tallied in the first round of ballot counting.  A candidate who gets a majority of first-choices wins.


2      Second round:  If no one gets a majority after provisional ballots are reviewed, the top two candidates advance to the next round, called the "instant runoff," and the others are eliminated.  In this round of counting, a vote goes to whichever finalist is ranked higher on the ballot.  The candidate with the majority of votes wins. 


3      Example:  If candidates X and Y are in the "instant runoff," they (a) keep all their first-choice votes and (b) get additional votes only from voters whose first-choices were cut.  If voter A's first-choice is cut, A's ballot is reviewed to see if X or Y is ranked higher. This second round occurs at the Wake Co. Board of Elections office.


 The benefits:


The Wake County Board of Elections points out the benefits of using Instant Runoff Voting:


1      It ensures higher voter turnout than when voters are asked to return for a runoff, and makes government more representative with a winner chosen by more voters.


2      It can improve the tone of campaigns because candidates may want an opponent's supporters to rank them 2nd, in case the opponent is cut in the first round.


3      It saves taxpayers and candidates money.  The Town of Cary will save about $62,000 by not holding a runoff.  Candidates can better budget their campaign, knowing there is only one election.


For more on Instant Runoff Voting, call the Wake County Board of Elections at 919-856-6240

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