See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Instant runoff voting 

It is called instant runoff voting, or IRV for short, and proponents say it is a simple, doable way to make elections fairer and bring alienated voters back into the electoral fold.

According to the Center for Voting and Democracy, IRV works like this:

"Each voter has one vote, and ranks candidates in order of choice (1, 2, 3, etc.). The counting of ballots simulates a series of run-off elections. All first choices are counted, and if no candidate wins a majority of first choices, then the last place candidate (candidate with the least first-choices) is eliminated. Ballots of voters who ranked the eliminated candidate first then are redistributed to their next-choice candidates, as indicated on each voter's ballot. Last place candidates are successively eliminated and ballots are redistributed to next choices until one candidate remains or a candidate gains over 50 percent of votes." One appealing aspect of instant runoffs, say proponents, is that they allow voters to support a potentially marginal third party without fear that they will "waste" the vote or split a coalition so that the candidate the like least wins.

It is an idea that has been gaining support in some areas, New Mexico being a particularly good example, where Green Party candidates have been drawing enough support away from Democrats to swing elections in favor of Republicans, something members of both progressive camps don't want to happen. "Voters have every incentive to vote for their favorite candidate rather than the 'lesser of two evils' because their ballot can still count toward a winner if their first choice loses. There also is every reason for a voter to rank as many candidates as they want, since a voter's lower choice will never help defeat one of their higher choices."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit