Can a candidate who finishes second in the first round ultimately win the election?

Yes, this is possible -- just like when a candidate who places second in the primary goes on to win the general election. RCV simply combines two elections into one, which simulates a two-round election. Instead of voting in two different elections, voters only have to go to the poll once, where they rank their ballots. Rounds of counting occur until one candidate (in a single-seat race) reaches the winning threshold. The candidate with the most first choices often wins, but it’s not uncommon for the candidate who places second in the initial round of counting to emerge as the winner.

 

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