IRV allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference (i.e. first, second, third, fourth and so on). Voters have the option to rank as many or as few candidates as they wish, but can vote without fear that ranking less favored candidates will harm the chances of their most preferred candidates. First choices are then tabulated, and if a candidate receives a majority of first choices, he or she is elected. If nobody has a clear majority of votes on the first count, a series of runoffs are simulated, using each voter's preferences indicated on the ballot. The candidate who received the fewest first place choices is eliminated. All ballots are then retabulated, with each ballot counting as one vote for each voter's highest ranked candidate who has not been eliminated. Specifically, voters who chose the now-eliminated candidate will now have their ballots counted for their second ranked candidate -- just as if they were voting in a traditional two-round runoff election -- but all other voters get to continue supporting their top candidate. The weakest candidates are successively eliminated and their voters' ballots are redistributed to next choices until a candidate crosses a majority of votes.This does seem to be the answer. But, unfortunately, IRV is not currently an option for most American voters. So, for now, we have to live by the two-party system -- and vote by it. If John McCain wins the presidency because of progressive votes squandered on third-party candidates, it's not just those third-party voters who will have to live with the consequences. We all will. Therefore, unless and until IRV becomes the norm in this country, Ralph Nader should stick with what he does best: Advancing the progressive agenda as an activist, not as a spoiler candidate. And the Greens should focus their efforts downballot, where they too can be effective.