Video: Instant Runoff Voting
ABOVE: A brief video showing how Instant Runoff Voting works.

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Instant Runoff Voting: 1, 2, 3

This year, North Carolina voters across the state will be able to take part in Instant Runoff Voting. This process is called "instant" because voters make their choice for a possible runoff election at the instant they cast a ballot, instead of returning weeks later for a separate runoff vote.

In August, N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Jim Wynn was confirmed to the federal court, leaving his seat vacant on the N.C. Court of Appeals. Because of the timing of the opening, a primary election could not be held.

Instead, 13 candidates will compete for this seat on the general election ballot. Voters will be able to rank their top three choices in order of preference: 1, 2 and 3. (See the sample ballot as an example below.)

IRV ballot

If any candidate receives more than 50 percent of 1st-place votes, then the election is over and that candidate wins.

However, if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the 1st-place votes, then the two candidates with the most 1st-place votes move on to the runoff, with all other candidates eliminated.

At this point, all ballots that ranked one of the eliminated candidates as No. 1 are examined for their 2nd- and 3rd-place choices.

These 2nd- and 3rd-place votes are added to the vote total of the two remaining candidates. Once the 2nd- and 3rd-place votes have been counted, the candidate with the most votes wins.

In summary:

  • The race for the "Wynn Seat" on the N.C. Court of Appeals will appear at the end of your ballot and will have 13 candidates. Learn more about these 13 candidates at NCVoterGuide.org.
  • You can rank your top-three choices in order of preference: 1, 2, 3.
  • You don't have to pick three candidates. You can rank just your top-two choices, or even just your No.1 choice.
  • Ranking the same choice as 1, 2 and 3 won't help that candidate.
  • Picking a 2nd and 3rd choice will never hurt your top choice.
  • Poll workers will be present when you vote to answer any questions you might have about Instant Runoff Voting.

For more information, contact your county board of elections or the N.C. Center for Voter Education.