Speaking of IRV

My post on voting for Best Picture (and the ensuing comments) talked quite a bit about IRV (instant run-off voting).  Georgia is presenting a case where IRV might solve a problem (and is, apparently, at least being discussed).

Via Peach Pundit:  Finding Alternatives to Runoff Elections Just Got More Urgent

One of the most disruptive features of the 2014 election cycle was a result of a court ruling that in order to allow overseas soldiers enough time to vote in a runoff election, absentee ballots would need to be provided 45 days prior to election day. Following the judge’s ruling, the legislature passed House Bill 310, which moved the primary election to late May and the runoff election to late July. Had the general election for the Senate gone to a runoff, that would have been held in early January. But election dates were not the only things to change. Election qualifying was moved up to early March, and legislators sped through the 2014 session, even “meeting” when the Capitol was closed due to snow and ice, in order to be able to raise money and campaign as early as possible.

While I am all for making sure all voters get the chance to cast their ballots, a 45 day gap between rounds is pretty extreme (and will likely repress turnout for the second round, creating other distortions in the process).  Indeed, in general, this ruling is clearly creating a variety of election administration issues for the state of Georgia.

An attempt has been made to call a committee to study alternatives, including IRV.  This is nothing more than a proposal to discuss proposals at this point and I have no idea as to the probability that the discussion will even take place.

In general, however, this situation strikes me as another piece of evidence as to the clunky nature of elections processes in the US.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Trumwill says:

    Yeah, I had a similar thought when I read about that. It’s definitely a circumstance that’s crying out for it.

    Though generally inferior to IRV, runoffs do have the advantage of letting voters get to know the main candidates before voting for them*. With 45 days, though, deteriorating interest is a concern. I have a friend in Texas who works on campaigns who was complaining about the 60 day lag there causing problems.

    * – I’ve seen this work in judicial elections (which, it should go without saying, shouldn’t exist). A candidate managed to break from the pack with a Ten Commandments sort of issue. He might have won in an IRV, but the primary season allowed his opposition to rally behind an opponent and work towards convincing voters not to vote for Ten Commandments Guy. The result was that he got something like 48% in the first election, and then 35% in the second.

  2. Rob Prather says:


    I’ve seen this work in judicial elections (which, it should go without saying, shouldn’t exist).

    I can’t stand judicial elections and leave the ballot blank. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  3. @Rob Prather: @Rob Prather: I concur. I am not a fan of judicial elections.

  4. Trumwill says:

    @Rob Prather: Too important to leave blank, though of course the statistical likelihood of my vote counting is small. What was crazy about back home is that I lived in a very populous county with a lot of judges. So come election time, I’d have to investigate president or governor, congressmen and state reps, maybe other statewide officials and county officials, maybe senator or state senator, and then (I’m not joking or exaggerating) 75 judicial races. Which was how Ten Commandments Guy and a lot of others managed to get as far as they did.

    Even worse was straight-ticket voting, which (in a purple county) meant that people regularly got swept in and out based on the gubernatorial or presidential race.

    It’s madness. Has anyone here read John Grisham’s “The Appeal”? It’s devoted to this subject.