WREG details how “Instant Runoff Voting” works

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - - The way Memphians vote in city elections could change in the near future and that possibility is creating controversy. It's all tied to something you've probably been hearing a lot about; Instant Runoff Voting.

University of Memphis political science professor Michael Sances walked us through the process today. Essentially, you rank your candidate choices instead of picking one.

Let's say you have three candidates in a city council race. We'll call them candidates A, B, and C. On the ballot, you would see the three candidates listed in rows on the left with three columns at the top that read 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  From there, you would pick your candidates from who you like the most to who you like the least.

Now, let's say none of the candidates in this example got a majority of "1st choice" votes. In that case, the instant runoff kicks in. Let's say Candidate C finished last with 25 percent. That means Candidate C is eliminated and we go to round two where "2nd choice" votes are added in.

"This process repeats for however long it needs to until someone gets 50 percent of the vote plus one," Sances says.

It eliminates the need of separate, costly runoff elections but isn't what Memphians are used to.

"It can be hard enough just picking A versus B. So, you're introducing this extra step where people have to think about how they feel about each particular candidate," Sances says.

IRV was actually approved by voters a decade ago but never put into place. Most of the current city council members oppose it.

"If you're an incumbent city council member, any shake up to the system you're going to be cautious about," Sances says.

That's why the council put a measure to repeal IRV on the ballot. So, if you don't like IRV, vote "for". If you do like it, vote "against".

Adding to the controversy is a recent city council vote to spend taxpayer money on a political campaign. It'll likely include people at the polls telling you why most council members think IRV should be repealed.

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