Different states and cities handle things in their own way when it comes to the voting process. Some states have runoff elections for things like primaries. Runoff elections work in a couple of different ways. Here is a quick explanation for how a runoff election may work:
–In some countries, a runoff election helps distribute votes from the losing candidates to the winners. In other words, you vote by priority. You pick your first choice, then your second, etc. If your first pick doesn’t win, your vote goes toward the second choice, and so on. That’s crazy to me.
–In, say, a primary situation, there is a pool of candidates. Sometimes there are a lot, and sometimes there are a few frontrunners. After the first ballot, the candidates with the least amount of votes are removed from the ballot, and a runoff election takes place to achieve a winner. Some other countries with more political parties also use a similar system. This way everyone is represented and nobody feels like they are throwing their vote away if they choose to vote for a minority party. They will be able to vote again for someone else if their chosen candidate does not make it higher on the ballot.
–Lack of majority. This has happened in Mississippi, where the GOP primary for Senate in 2014 did not have a clear winner. Some elections require the winner to have a certain percentage of the vote (in this case, it was a meager 50% of the votes). Unfortunately, this tends to mean that voters are already underwhelmed by the candidates, and even less people vote the second time around. Usually the winner is whoever spends the most money in the leadup to the runoff election.In theory, it is a great idea, but people lose momentum, which explains the low voter turnout when people have to show up a second time several weeks after the first election.
The idea behind runoff elections is to give people more of a choice. Many more people can run in the first election, allowing for a more open and fair selection. A second election can narrow the field down and help elect the person most qualified for the job. Or at least, that is the hope.
In California, they have this weird “jungle” primary system, where the top two candidates from either party end up on the ballot. That means you could have two Republicans or two Democrats, and nothing from the opposition party. I have no idea if that’s fair or not, but I’ll tell you—it makes California an even less desirable place to live if you ask me.
That’s what a runoff election is. Hope this cleared up any questions you might have.