There is an electoral system that improves upon the Anglo-American first-past-the-post (FPP) or plurality method of election, at least in surfacing second and third (and lower-order) preferences, argues Donald L. Horowitz, James B. Duke Professor of Law and Political Science Emeritus, Duke University, and Senior Fellow, International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy. It is called the Alternative Vote, he writes for RealClearPolitics:
AV uses a ballot that asks voters to mark first, second, third, etc., preferences. Then, if there are more than two candidates, the one with the fewest first preferences is dropped out, and his or her voters’ second preferences are reallocated as if they were first preferences. The process is repeated until one candidate receives a majority. (There are several ways of doing the actual counting, but in each case the aim is to find a winner with real majority support among all the voters.)
Generally, the leader in first preferences wins even when all preferences have been counted, so AV is not a radical departure from first-past-the-post, but it can produce a different result when most voters strongly prefer someone other than the first-preference leader or find that leader unacceptable.