Comparing Voting Methods

Our current voting method, Plurality or First-Past-The-Post, is only fair and accurate if there are two candidates in the race. We can do better! But what’s the best alternative? Here we present the pros and cons of four options in detail. They are not necessarily the best four options, but they are the leading voting methods under consideration for updating our elections.

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Our Current Voting System, known as Plurality or First Past The Post, is used in the vast majority of the USA and many places around the world. Each person votes for one candidate only. The candidate with the most votes wins. (Factors like the electoral college complicate the process but you get the idea.)

STAR Voting is a new proposed system where voters use a 5 star ballot to give each candidate a score from 0-5 to show their preferences. The two highest scoring candidates are finalists. The finalist that was preferred by more voters wins.

Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is the most common method for counting Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) style ballots. Ranked Choice Voting is technically a family of voting systems but the term is often used to describe Instant Runoff Voting specifically. Voters rank candidates on the ballot in order of preference: 1st, 2nd, 3rd and sometimes more. If a candidate has a majority of first choice votes, that candidate wins. Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated. If your first choice is eliminated, your vote goes to your next choice if they haven’t been eliminated yet, and the process repeats in rounds until one candidate has a majority of the remaining ballots.


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