Papua New Guinea Implements Instant Runoff Voting

Papua New Guinea is a nation of about five million people near Australia. In 2002 its government moved to adopt instant runoff voting (which it calls"limited preferential voting", as voters are limited to three choices) for its legislative elections. The system was seen as a way to encourage representatives to reach beyond their base, as plurality election had been resulting in candidates winning with low plurality votes, often under 25%.

The new system was used in a special election in December 2003 and, as has so often been the case, worked very well. The winner nearly won on the first count, but did fall short of a majority and won on the second count. One key point from an American perspective was that the percentage of spoiled ballots was under 2% --  less than the percentage of spoiled ballots nationally in our presidential election in 2000.  As has been shown in many conditions, ranked-choice systems are not difficult for voters -- indeed the voter error rate is consistently about 0.5% in Ireland's presidential elections.

Below are representative articles about the initial election:

ABC Radio Australia: "PNG voting system praised by new MP." December 24, 2003.

The National:"Yes, there is a Doctor in the House." December 18, 2003. "PNG adopts new voting system for by-election." December 4, 2003.

ABC Asia Pacific:"Optimism over new voting system in PNG." December 12, 2003.

The National:"Trawen heartened by low number of informal votes." December 17, 2003.

The National: "Dr Temu scores decisive victory." December 17, 2003.