Here's how it works:
1. The threshold to win is determined by dividing the total number of voters by the number of seats, then adding 1.
2. Round 1 of counting begins, tallying first choices for all candidates.
3. If any candidate surpasses the winning threshold in Round 1, that candidate's surplus votes (votes won beyond the necessary threshold to win), are then transferred proportionately to those voters' second choices. In the example graphic below, Carlos won 18 (or 40%) more votes than needed to win the election, so 40% of each vote Carlos received is transferred to those voters' second choices. In the example, of the 45 people who ranked Carlos their #1 choice, 15 ranked David their #2 choice. 40% of 15 is 6 votes, so David is therefore awarded 6 more votes.
Imagine it like this: You have $1.00 to buy your favorite candy bar. But if that candy bar only costs 60¢, you get to put your other 40¢ towards your second favorite candy bar. The same process applies with RCV in multi-seat elections: If your #1 choice candidate reaches the threshold of votes needed to win, his or her surplus votes are divided proportionately according to percentage and then awarded to those voters' second choices.
4. If no candidate reaches the threshold, the least popular candidate is defeated and those ballots are transferred to remaining candidates based on those voters' second choices.
5. This process continues until all seats are filled.
The more seats there are to fill, the greater the number of voters who will be represented. When used to elect multiple candidates in a single race, RCV ensures more voters are fairly represented.
Ranking is as easy as 1-2-3. As a voter, you rank the candidates in order of preference, just as you do in other races on the ballot.
Winners must have a minimum threshold of support. With more candidates to elect, the threshold to win is adjusted:
•A candidate needs 33 percent plus one vote in the two-seat race for Board and Estimate and
•A candidate needs 25 percent plus one in the three-seat At-Large Park Board race.
No wasted votes. As in single-seat races, all the first choices are tallied. If a candidate reaches the
winning threshold, that candidate is elected. If that candidate had more votes than needed to win, these votes are not wasted; rather, those voters' ballots continue to help elect other candidates according to those voters' second and third choices. The "surplus" votes for that candidate are reallocated to the second choices on those voters' ballots, corresponding to the percentage of votes that the winning candidate received over the necessary threshold. If no candidate has met the threshold after surplus reallocation, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and that candidate's votes are reassigned to remaining candidates based on those voters' second choices.
Upholds majority rule and represents more voters. This process of eliminating and electing candidates and reallocating votes is repeated until all the seats are filled. The process minimizes wasted votes and yields more accurate and fairer representation of the voters than the old plurality system did – 66 percent of voters help elect the two members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation and 75 percent of voters help elect the three members of the Park Board.
First choices can't be harmed by second or third choices. Under the old system, second and third choice votes could harm a voters first choice and the only way to prevent this from happening was bullet voting.
In any RCV race, your second and third choices can't harm your first choice. Your second and third choices only count once your first choice is elected or defeated.
For more information see:
•How RCV Works: http://fairvotemn.org/howRCVworks
•MPR video on how RCV works in multiple winner elections: