IRV impacts election costs in a number of ways, and these can vary from place to place.
Jurisdictions that use IRV to eliminate an entire round of voting (a primary or runoff cycle) will almost certainly save substantial costs. For example, in 2007, the city of Cary, North Carolina saved $28,000 by using IRV and thereby avoiding a runoff election. Justdictions that switch to IRV without eliminating a round of voting will likely incur modest costs during the transition.
Election cost is determined based on a number of factors, including the number of polling places and their hours, the number of paid poll workers, and the cost of voter education campaigns. Most of these costs remain constant regardless of the voting method being used.
The costs associated with upgrading voting equipment are often the largest costs of switching to IRV. However, the latest voting equipment from the largest vendors all can run IRV elections without substantial additional costs. This means that if a jurisdiction uses voting equipment that cannot run IRV elections, it probably uses legacy equipment that will need to be upgraded soon regardless of the election method. In these cases, while IRV may impact the timing of when the cost is incurred, it is not actually the reason for the extra cost.
The Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center publishes a guide to assessing the costs of instant runoff voting, available at www.rankedchoicevoting.org/budgeting
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