Voting at the Democratic caucus this Sunday will be IRV – Instant Runoff Voting. This type of voting was used in both our Arlington County Board and School Board caucuses earlier this year. IRV is where you indicate your numeric preference for the candidates – you mark “1” next to the name of your first choice candidate, “2” for your second choice and so on. If one candidate receives more than 50% of the 1st place votes, that candidate wins. If not, the candidate with the fewest number of 1st places votes is eliminated and each of his/her ballots is re-distributed to the candidate listed as the 2nd choice on that ballot. The ballots are counted again and the process continues until one candidate receives more than 50% of the 1st place votes.
An important point, and one that some voters seem confused about, is that you cannot hurt your first choice candidate by voting for more than one candidate – you actually strengthen your vote. Your ballot follows your first choice candidate until that candidate is eliminated. If your first choice candidate is eliminated your vote continues to be counted – it will go to your second choice candidate and so on. We adopted this system, used in many jurisdictions around the country and around the world, to ensure that the winner represents a majority of those voting rather than winning by a small percentage which often happens when there is a large number of candidates. Carol Fontein, Chair, Precinct Operations, Arlington County Democrats