Instant runoff voting is a system that is used in order to find one clear winner in an election or through the voting process. For the sake of simplicity, we will use this as a model for electing a candidate to a political position. A ballot is created and the candidates who are running are put on the ballot. In the first round of the instant runoff vote, the candidates are ranked in order of preference.
What this means is if there are five candidates, they will be ranked 1 through 5 by the voters. After this the ballots are tallied up to find out if there is a winner. If there is no clear majority, the candidate who has the lowest ranking scores are eliminated from the ballot. So, if two people are eliminated from the ballot, it is then a four person ballot.
The instant runoff voting resumes with the four person ballot; the voters again vote for their preferences and the ballots are counted and ranked again. Once all of the votes are counted and there is a clear winner, the instant runoff vote is over. This method is used when it comes to finding individuals to fill positions on committees or boards, if there are multiple candidates running.
Instant runoff voting is a type of voting that is typically done in smaller areas of decisions, more in local regions. One can surmise that the reason it is not used in larger elections is because this type of voting system would take too long to count the ballots.